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India-China military talks on LAC disengagement ‘positive’ but ‘inconclusive’

Indian Army soldiers walk along the India- China border in Bumla in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh (AP)Premium
Indian Army soldiers walk along the India- China border in Bumla in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh (AP)

  • There was no indication of the stalemate ending, however, India and China have agreed to keep the dialogue process going
  • The sixth round of senior military commander-level talks focused on ways to defuse tensions along the border

NEW DELHI : Despite a new round of high-level talks between senior military commanders, the impasse in India-China border conflict continues. Two people familiar with the development on Tuesday said that though the discussions were inconclusive, they were “positive".

There was no indication of the stalemate ending anytime soon, however, the two sides have agreed to keep the dialogue process going.

The sixth round of senior military commander-level talks on Monday lasted for almost 15 hours and focused on ways to defuse tensions along the high-altitude friction points in eastern Ladakh. The current levels of tensions are seen as unprecedented in recent times. A violent clash between the two countries on 15 June left 20 dead on the Indian side and unknown number of Chinese casualties.

More rounds of negotiations ahead

At the end of the discussions, that started at 9 am and concluded at 11 pm on Monday, representatives of the countries agreed to have “more rounds of talks as issues (involved) are complex," said one of the people cited above. The discussions were “quite positive despite the lack of apparent result," the person added.

The commander level talks came after a meeting on 10 September between the foreign ministers of India and China in Moscow. That paved the way for a temporary truce that still holds though the tens of thousands of soldiers are ranged against each other with tanks, missiles and air support. At some points, the troops are less than a kilometre apart.

At the talks, the Indian delegation conveyed its position that the onus was on China to move back from the positions it was occupying. The agenda for the meeting was to chart out a specific timeline for the implementation of the five-point agreement reached between India and China on 10 September when foreign ministers of India and China -- S. Jaishankar and Wang Yi – met in Moscow. India also insisted on a time-bound implementation of the agreement finalised the talks between India’s S. Jaishankar and China’s Wang Yi in Moscow.

“The temporary truce is still holding," which was good, said Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese Studies at the New Delhi based Jawaharlal Nehru University. “This means there is no fighting, no low intensity conflict," he said. There were no instances of the troops firing at each other either, he said referring to two such incidents in early September. “Despite obvious differences the two sides are not walking away, they are engaging. That is positive," Kondapalli said.

“But the situation is complex and its been clear for some time now that the Chinese are reluctant to move back to positions they were at before May," he said referring to the time when India noticed multiple intrusions into Ladakh by Chinese troops. “Because the situation is complex, the two countries will have to discuss (disengagement and de-escalation) sector by sector. It is a stalemate because neither side is moving back," Kondapalli said.

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