NEW DELHI: India and China on Friday reiterated their commitment to “ensure complete disengagement” along the volatile Line of Actual Control (LAC) ahead of military talks next week aimed at pulling back troops from the Pangong Tso area of Ladakh.

Senior Indian and Chinese diplomats who met via video link also pledged to keep their dialogue through diplomatic and military channels on track “to ensure early resolution of the situation”—a reference to tensions along the LAC due to the mobilization of tens of thousands of troops by both sides.

The Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) was led by joint secretary (East Asia) Naveen Srivastava on the Indian side, while the Chinese team was headed by Hong Liang, director general of the boundary and oceanic department.

It coincided with defence minister Rajnath Singh meeting Indian army chief Gen. Manoj Mukund Naravane for a review of the situation along the 3,488-km border, where bloody clashes on 15 June killed 20 Indian and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers.

India-China border tensions also figured in a telephone conversation between Singh and his US counterpart, Mark Esper.

“The two have spoken frequently in recent weeks,” a person in the know of the matter said.

The WMCC “reviewed the situation in the India-China border areas, including the progress made in the ongoing disengagement process along the LAC,” an Indian foreign an Indian foreign ministry statement said.

“They agreed that it was necessary for both sides to sincerely implement the understandings reached between senior commanders,” it said, referring to three meetings in June between military officers on reducing tensions through a gradual pull back of troops.

A fourth meeting, scheduled to happen next week, will look at moving back troops from problem areas such as the banks of Pangong Tso and the Depsang plains in Ladakh.

Since early this month, the two sides have implemented a slow pullback of troops from three friction points—PP (patrolling point) 14, 15 and 17A in Ladakh where tensions have been running high for the past two months.

This process is now complete, two people familiar with the matter separately said, adding that the next round of military talks would focus on drawing troops down from Pangong Tso as well as moving back military hardware like long-range artillery.

The WMCC meet came on a day the Chinese ambassador to India Sun Weidong sought to reach out to the Indian public in a video message where he said India and China should be partners rather than rivals.

The two countries need to build trust through mutual respect and treat each other as equals, he said. The ambassador also addressed those who were calling for a boycott of Chinese-made goods. He said non-tariff barriers and restrictive measures would be unfair to Chinese enterprises and Indian consumers.

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