India, China hold talks to resolve border standoff in Ladakh

PTI

Represantative image: India China flag

Represantative image: India China flag

Indian and Chinese armies were scheduled to hold military-level dialogue on Saturday in their first major attempt to resolve the month-long bitter border standoff in eastern Ladakh even as both militaries maintained their aggressive posturing in the sensitive areas in the high-altitude region.

The two sides have already held several rounds of talks between local commanders and three rounds of talks between major general-rank officials but no positive outcome came out from the discussions, said sources.

In today’s meeting, the Indian side is expected to press for restoration of the status quo ante in at least Pangong Tso and Galwan Valley to gradually deescalate the tension removal of temporary camps erected by China after a violent face off between the two sides on May 5.

The Indian delegation will also insist on implementation of the strategic guidelines issued by the two militaries in line with decisions taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping
in their first informal summit in April 2018 in Wuhan. It is learnt that two sides are also engaged in diplomatic talks to find a solution to the face-off which is turning out to be the most serious military standoff between the two armies after the Doklam episode of 2017. Modi and Xi held their informal summit in Wuhan months after the Doklam standoff.

The Chinese army is learnt to have deployed around 2,500 troops in Pangong Tso and Galwan Valley besides gradually enhancing temporary infrastructure and weaponry.

It is believed China has significantly ramped up defence infrastructure on its side of the de-facto border.

China has also enhanced its presence in certain areas along the Line of Actual Control in Northern Sikkim and Uttarakhand following which India has also been its presence by sending additional troops,
they said.

The trigger for the face-off was China’s stiff opposition to India laying a key road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso Lake besides construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.

The road in the Finger area in Pangong Tso is considered crucial for India to carry out patrol. India has already decided not to stall any border infrastructure projects in eastern Ladakh in view of Chinese
protests.

Government sources said military reinforcements including troops, vehicles and artillery guns were sent to eastern Ladakh by the Indian Army to shore up its presence in the areas where Chinese soldiers
were resorting to aggressive posturing.

The situation in eastern Ladakh deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on the evening of May 5 which spilled over to the next day before the two sides
agreed to “disengage”. However, the standoff continued.

The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9.

The troops of India and China were engaged in a 73-day stand-off in Doklam tri-junction in 2017 which even triggered fears of a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LAC. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it.

Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

(PTI)