Three years after the Galwan Valley skirmish, India and China have agreed to step up efforts for the disengagement of troops and de-escalation of tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The development came after a conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in South Africa, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said on Thursday.

The meeting between Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi took place on Wednesday, sources said, as the two leaders attended the summit in Johannesburg along with leaders from Brazil, Russia and South Africa. However, the announcement of the talks was kept under wraps until the next day, just prior to the PM’s departure for Greece.

The readout given by the Foreign Secretary, however, made no mention of the Prime Minister making any reference to India’s earlier position that a reversion to the “status quo ante” as of April 2020 was necessary to resolve the conflict. While Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi had spoken briefly on the sidelines of the Bali G-20 summit dinner last year about the need to “stabilise the LAC”, this is the first such conversation in the last three years where the two leaders spoke at some length on resolving the issue.

Mr. Kwatra said that the two leaders had decided to “direct their relevant officials to intensify efforts at expeditious disengagement and de-escalation”, indicating the current talks being held between military commanders at the LAC. These talks had been extended earlier this month after an unsuccessful 19th round of commander level talks were completed on August 14.

As The Hindu reported, the talks were restarted a few days later and Majors General on both sides reportedly discussed the stalemate over the disengagement of troops. In addition, the creation of buffer zones as part of agreements between the two sides has restricted patrolling by the troops.(The Hindu)