Sources suggest that the Chinese, who never vacated the Finger 4 ridgeline even after agreeing to total disengagement, massed close to 2,000 soldiers on the upper reaches of the ridge Tuesday night. Observing the Chinese troop movement, India also moved to mirror the deployment, sending almost the same number of troops to the Finger 3 ridgeline.

A government source said that the situation remains tense and less than 500 metres separate troops of the two sides, forces on either side are armed. The source added that all are within shooting range and the line of sight is clear on the upper reaches, the weather too is harsh during the night, the challenge is to keep the troops calm.

During two-hour-long talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Moscow, EAM Jaishankar has conveyed India’s concern over recent incidents in eastern Ladakh and he also took up the issue of provocative behaviour of Chinese frontline troops at numerous incidents of friction.

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According to government sources in the meeting, the Indian side highlighted its strong concern at the massing of Chinese troops with equipment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the presence of such a large concentration of troops was not in accordance with the 1993 and 1996 Agreements and created flashpoints along the LAC.

As per the sources, the Chinese side has not provided a credible explanation for this deployment, the provocative behaviour of Chinese frontline troops at numerous incidents of friction along the LAC also showed disregard for bilateral agreements and protocols.

Jaishankar underlined that since the resumption of Ambassadorial level relations in 1976 and holding of boundary talks since 1981, India-China relations have developed on a largely positive trajectory. While there have been incidents from time to time, peace and tranquillity have largely prevailed in the border areas. As a result, India-China cooperation also developed in a broad range of domains, giving the relationship a more substantive character.

EAM told the Chinese side that while the Indian side recognised that a solution to the boundary question required time and effort, it was also clear that the maintenance of peace and tranquillity on the border areas was essential to the forward development of ties, the recent incidents in eastern Ladakh, however, inevitably impacted the development of the bilateral relationship and therefore, an urgent resolution of the current situation was in the interest of both nations.

According to government sources, “The Indian side clearly conveyed that it expected full adherence to all agreements on the management of border areas and would not countenance any attempt to change the status quo unilaterally. It was also emphasised that the Indian troops had scrupulously followed all agreements and protocols pertaining to the management of the border areas.”

According to government sources, EAM Jaishankar emphasised, “The immediate task is to ensure a comprehensive disengagement of troops in all the friction areas. That is necessary to prevent any untoward incident in the future. The final disposition of the troop deployment to their permanent posts and the phasing of the process is to be worked out by the military commanders”.

At the end of their discussions, the Ministers reached an agreement on five points that will guide their approach to the current situation.

After more than two-hour-long talk between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, both sides have reached a five-point consensus which emphasised maintaining peace and tranquillity, dialogue, and disengagement.

According to a joint statement issued by India and China, “The two Ministers agreed that both sides should take guidance from the series of consensus of the leaders on developing India-China relations, including not allowing differences to become disputes. They also agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions.”

The two Ministers agreed that both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.

“They agreed to continue to have dialogue and communication through the Special Representative mechanism on the India-China boundary question. They also agreed in this context that the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China border affairs (WMCC), should also continue its meetings,” according to the joint statement.

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