Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers guard a highway leading towards Leh, bordering China, in Gagangir on June 17, 2020. Photo: AFP

India and China have pulled back from the brink of conflict by agreeing to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and work to avoid clashes.

Both had agreed not to allow differences to become disputes, India said after the talks on Sunday between Ajit Doval, the country’s national security adviser, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

“They re-affirmed that both sides should strictly respect and observe the [LAC] and should not take any unilateral action to alter the status quo and work together to avoid any incident in the future that could disturb peace and tranquility in border areas,” India said in a statement.

India has been engaged in skirmishes with China over the past two months along India’s northernmost tip at Ladakh. India accuses China of encroaching several kilometres into Indian territory.

“The two sides should also ensure a phased and stepwise de-escalation in the India-China border areas,” India said. “In this regard they further agreed that both sides should complete the ongoing disengagement process along the LAC expeditiously.”

Doval and Wang Yi’s virtual interaction on Sunday was preceded by a surprise visit to Ladakh by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 3.

Modi met top army generals to take stock of the situation first-hand and accused China of expansionism, a charge Beijing denied.

On June 15, a skirmish between troops of the two countries turned ugly and 20 Indian soldiers were killed. The killings enraged India, prompting it to move troops and weapons nearer the border.

The Chinese embassy in New Delhi said after the Doval/Wang Yi talks,”The right and wrong of what recently happened at the Galwan Valley in the western sector of the China-India boundary is very clear. China will continue firmly safeguarding our territorial sovereignty as well as peace and tranquility in the border areas.”

China said Doval and Wang Yi agreed to keep communicating to ensure full and enduring restoration of peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas. Diplomatic and military officials of the two countries would continue the talks.