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Border Bother: India to Keep Preparing for Tense Summer, No Headway in Latest Military Talks with China

The eastern Ladakh border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas. (Representational image/Reuters)

The eastern Ladakh border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas. (Representational image/Reuters)

The 15th round of talks started at 10am on Friday at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Indian side and lasted 13 hours.

India will continue preparing for a tense summer ahead at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh with the latest round of military talks with China on Friday failing to achieve any further breakthrough, defence sources told News18.

The talks started at 10am on Friday at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Indian side and lasted 13 hours.

“The stalemate continues. India will have to keep holding defences at the LAC and stay on high alert all through the summer months,” a defence source said.

As reported by News18, the prime agenda of the 15th round of talks held on Friday was a “full disengagement” at the Hot Springs area and its outcome was to determine much of India’s summer posturing in the approaching months. A limited number of troops from both sides continue facing each other at the Hot Springs area despite agreeing on the disengagement at this friction point in the 12th round of talks last year.

With the 14th round of talks in January this year being constructive and both sides agreeing to meet soon, some forward movement was expected this time.

The source said that the broader idea for this year was to ensure some reduction in the reserve formations from both sides with the continued focus of the talks being building confidence between the two countries. “The larger deployment, logistics and other plans would be discussed, reassessed and fine-tuned for the next few months taking into account the current situation,” the source added.

A joint statement released by New Delhi and Beijing stated that the two sides carried forward their discussions from the previous round held on January 12 for the resolution of the relevant issues along the LAC in the Western Sector.

“They had a detailed exchange of views in this regard, in keeping with the guidance provided by the state leaders to work for the resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest,” the statement said, adding that they reaffirmed that such a resolution would help restore peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the Western Sector and facilitate progress in bilateral relations.

“The two sides also agreed to maintain the security and stability on the ground in the Western Sector in the interim. They agreed to maintain dialogue via military and diplomatic channels to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest,” it added.

In January, Army chief General MM Naravane had said it is “unreasonable” to expect every round of talks to have an outcome and a number of rounds will be required to deal with the situations and resolve them one at a time.

India and China continue to remain locked in a military standoff at the LAC in eastern Ladakh since May 2020.

The 15 rounds of military commanders’ talks between the two sides had led to disengagement at two friction points along the LAC — the critical Finger 4 area of the north bank of Pangong Tso in February last year and, six months later, at Gogra or Patrol Point 17 A.

Aside from Hot Springs, the long-standing issues at Depsang Plains and Demchok remain to be resolved where Indian troops still can’t guard the designated patrol points.

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first published:March 12, 2022, 20:40 IST