NEW DELHI: The foreign ministers of India and China have agreed that troops of the two countries must quickly disengage from a border standoff, they said in a joint statement issued on Friday (Sep 11).
Foreign Ministers S Jaishankar and Wang Yi met in Moscow on Thursday on the sidelines of a conference to try and end the months-long dispute on the undemarcated border, the most serious in decades.
"The two foreign ministers 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," they said in the statement.
The Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday that China will maintain communications with India through diplomatic and military channels and commit to "restoring peace and tranquility" in their disputed border area.
Wang told Jaishankar that the "imperative is to immediately stop provocations such as firing and other dangerous actions that violate the commitments made by the two sides".
Wang also said during the meeting that all personnel and equipment that have trespassed at the border must be moved and that frontier troops on both sides "must quickly disengage" in order to de-escalate the situation.
China's Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the official newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party, said in an editorial published late Thursday that any talks with India should be paired with "war readiness".
"The Chinese side must be fully prepared to take military action when diplomatic engagement fails, and its frontline troops must be able to respond to emergencies, and be ready to fight at any time," the newspaper said.
"India has an abnormal confidence in confronting China. It does not have enough strength. If India is kidnapped by extreme nationalist forces and keeps following its radical China policy, it will pay a heavy price."
In June, at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a "violent face-off" with Chinese forces along the Galwan Valley, between China's Tibet and India's Ladakh region, which saw the deadliest clash between the nuclear-armed neighbours for more than four decades.
Earlier this week, both countries accused each other of firing in the air during a confrontation on the border.
Both sides have observed a long-held protocol to avoid using firearms on the sensitive, undemarcated frontier, though this agreement has not prevented casualties.
Troops of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) had attempted to close in on a forward Indian position at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), or the de factor border, in the Ladakh sector, the Indian army said in a statement on Tuesday.
"And when dissuaded by own (Indian troops), PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate own troops," it said, adding that the Indian side acted with restraint.
"At no stage has the Indian Army transgressed across the LAC or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing," it said.
But China said the Indians had breached the informal border through the southern bank of the Pangong Tso lake, where tension has been rising for more than a week.
"The Indian troops brazenly made gunshot threat to the patrolling Chinese border guards who came forward for negotiations, and the Chinese border guards were forced to take countermeasures to stabilise the situation," said Zhang Shuili, a representative of the PLA's western theatre command.
China's foreign ministry said Indian troops had illegally crossed the LAC and were the first to fire shots.