China and India agreed to continue their dialogue and “quickly disengage” from a tense border standoff during a meeting of the countries’ foreign ministers in Russia, according to India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and India’s top diplomat, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, agreed that the current situation on the border is not in the interest of either side, the joint statement issued after the Moscow meeting said.
“They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions,” the statement said.
The two sides also agreed to continue their dialogue and communication through their special representatives’ mechanism on the India-China boundary question during the meeting Friday on the sidelines of a defence forum in Moscow.
Jaishankar’s meeting with Wang comes days after confirmation that firearms were used for the first time in more than four decades at the Line of Actual Control in the eastern Ladakh region.
China on Monday accused Indian troops of crossing a disputed border in the Himalayan region of Ladakh and firing warning shots, thus breaking an agreement barring the use of firearms.
India rejected the allegations and accused Chinese soldiers of firing in the air.
India and China have differing perceptions of what constitutes the Line of Actual Control that runs through disputed territory on their Himalayan border.
The two countries fought a brief border war in 1962 and dispute several sections along this ill-defined, 3,500-kilometre border.
India disputes China’s rule over 38,000 square kilometres of land in Aksai Chin, which it claims to be part of Ladakh region.
China has laid claims to 90,000 square kilometres of territory in Arunachal Pradesh, which it says is part of southern Tibet.
In June, troops from the two countries had their first violent confrontation in 45 years, during which 20 Indian soldiers were killed. Beijing did not release any casualty numbers.
Tensions in the region have been high since May when India alleges Chinese troops took control of territory patrolled by Indian soldiers for decades.
China has accused India of “serious military provocations” that have pushed up regional tensions.
India and China’s defence ministers also met in Moscow on Sept. 4 on the sidelines of the regional summit. Several meetings have taken place between military commanders to defuse the tense situation.
Both sides have intermittently claimed troop withdrawal and disengagement but reports of skirmishes continue with heavy military deployment by the nuclear-armed neighbours.