India, China hold military talks on Ladakh border row; no breakthrough


New Delhi: India and China held a fresh round of high-level military talks to resolve the over three-and-half-year-old border row in eastern Ladakh that saw both sides agreeing to maintain “peace and tranquillity” on the ground but there was no indication of any breakthrough.
The 21st round of India-China corps commander level meeting was held at Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on February 19, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Wednesday.
The Indian side strongly pressed for resolution of the lingering issues at Depsang and Demchok, people familiar with the matter said, adding there was no tangible forward movement in the talks.
The MEA said the two sides agreed to maintain communication on the way ahead through the relevant military and diplomatic mechanisms.
“The discussions built on the previous rounds, seeking complete disengagement in the remaining areas along the LAC (Line of Actual Control) in eastern Ladakh as an essential basis for restoration of peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas,” it said in a statement.
The MEA said the two sides shared their perspectives on this in the talks held in a “friendly and cordial” atmosphere.
“The two sides have agreed to maintain communication on the way ahead through the relevant military and diplomatic mechanisms. They also committed to maintain peace and tranquillity on the ground in the border areas in the interim,” it said.
In Beijing, China’s ministry of national defence said the two militaries have agreed to maintain communication on current border issues.
It said the talks were held at the Moldo-Chushul border meeting point on the Chinese side.
The two sides conducted positive, in-depth, and constructive communication on resolving border issues of mutual concern, it said.
Both sides agreed to continue communication through military and diplomatic channels, guided by the important consensus of the leaders of the two countries, to reach an acceptable solution as soon as possible and “turn the page” in the border situation, the Chinese readout said.
The 20th round of military talks were held on October 9 and 10.
Following that round of talks, the MEA had said that the two sides exchanged views in a frank, open and constructive manner for an early and mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC.
Last month, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande said that the situation along the LAC in eastern Ladakh is “stable” but “sensitive” and asserted that the Indian troops are maintaining a “very high state” of operational preparedness to effectively deal with any eventualities.
Gen Pande also said that both India and China continue to hold talks at military and diplomatic levels with an aim to return to the “status quo ante” that existed in the middle of 2020.
The Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a standoff in certain friction points in eastern Ladakh even as the two sides completed disengagement from several areas following extensive diplomatic and military talks.
The Indian delegation at the talks was headed by Lt Gen Rashim Bali, the Commander of the Leh-headquartered 14 Corps while the Chinese team was led by the commander of the South Xinjiang military district.
India has been maintaining that its ties with China cannot be normal unless there is peace in the border areas.
The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake area.
The ties between the two countries nosedived significantly following the fierce clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.
As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in 2021 on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area.

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