India asks China to maintain status quo ante on borde

New Delhi


India Tuesday said it has asked China to maintain the status quo that existed before the April 15 incursion by Chinese troops in the Depsang area of the western sector of the India-China boundary, even as External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said there was no need for diplomatic-level talks to resolve the issue.

"There is no need for diplomatic-level talks," Khurshid said, and added that local military commanders from both sides would hold discussions "to work out a solution at flag meetings, as they have been doing in the past".

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said India and China had "differing perceptions" of the Line of Actual Control in the Depsang area and the incursion by Chinese troops had led to a "face-to-face" situation between their troops.

"We see this as a face to face situation between the border personnel of the two sides due to differences on their alignment of the LAC. We have asked the Chinese side to maintain status quo in this sector, by which I mean status quo prior to this incident," the spokesperson said.

The term "face-to-face" is referred to the 2005 protocol for implementing CBMs along the LAC. According to the protocol, when border personnel of the two sides come face to face, they are to exercise self-restraint and take all necessary steps to prevent the situation from escalating, he said.

Terming the incident as a "localized event", the spokesperson said that "overall, the India-China border area continues to remain peaceful". Both sides have peacefully resolved similar incidents in the past "and we hope to resolve this incident too peacefully", the official added.

"This is a sector in which there are differing perceptions of the LAC, and that is why we have since 1996 been maintaining that there is need for both sides to work together in clarifying the LAC," said the spokesperson.

According to reports, Chinese troops intruded 10 km into the Indian territory in the area. Beijing has denied any incursion across the Line of Actual Control, which is a notional line.

Indian and Chinese armies Tuesday held a brigadier-level flag meeting to resolve the issue.

Flag meetings are a mechanism to deal with emergent situations. They supplement the border personnel meetings that are held twice a year at various points along the India-China border.

Listing out steps taken by India after the incident was reported April 15, Akbaruddin said Gautam Bambawale, joint secretary (East Asia), who chairs the working mechanism for consultation and coordination on India-China border affairs, spoke to his counterpart, who is the director general border affairs of the Chinese foreign ministry.

"Subsequently on April 18, there was a flag meeting and following that on April 18 evening, the foreign secretary (Ranjan Mathai) expressed the concerns of the government of India to the ambassador of China in Delhi," he said.

"In our view, we see this as a situation of differing perception," said Akbaruddin.

"We believe that this ongoing incident can be handled on the basis of agreements between the two and through mechanisms established to resolve such situations peacefully," he added.

Khurshid also said that India and China have set up a mechanism to resolve border issues. He also reiterated that both sides have made progress in their bilateral ties and it is not necessary to raise a question on such issues.

The minister added that India will take "necessary action" in the matter.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony had said Monday that India will take "every step" to protect its interests to resolve the situation arising out of the alleged incursion by Chinese troops into Indian territory.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying had said Monday that "China's frontier troops have been abiding by the agreement between the two countries and abiding by the LAC agreed by the two countries".

"Our frontier troops have been patrolling on the China's side of LAC," Hua had said, adding: "Our troops are patrolling on the Chinese side of the LAC and have never trespassed the line." - IANS