Eastern Ladakh row: India China holds 18th round of military talks

Talks focused on resolving issues at remaining friction points in region, with Indian side insisting on a speedy resolution to the disputes

SRINAGAR | Updated: 24 April, 2023 6:17 pm IST

Days ahead of Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu’s planned visit to India for the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting, the Corps Commander level talks between the militaries of the two countries today held a fresh round of high-level talks to resolve issues at the remaining friction points in Eastern Ladakh as the border row spills over into the fourth year.

The 18th round of military talks between India and China took place at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh, people familiar with the dialogue said.

According to the sources privy to the talks, the Indian side insisted on resolving the issues at the remaining friction points of Demchok and Depsang in Eastern Ladakh as soon as possible.

The Indian delegation at the dialogue was led by Lt Gen Rashim Bali, Commander of the Leh based 14 Corps that takes care of security along the LAC in the Ladakh sector.

The talks took place ahead of Chinese Defence Minister Li’s visit to New Delhi to attend a Defence Ministerial Meeting of the SCO on April 27 and 28. India is hosting the meeting under its presidency of the grouping.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to hold a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the SCO conclave.

Today’s military talks came around four months after the last round of dialogue between the senior Army commanders of the two sides.

The 17th round of military talks was held on December 20. Following the dialogue, the two sides, in a joint statement, said they exchanged views in an “open and constructive” manner to resolve the “relevant issues” and that it was agreed to maintain “security and stability” on the ground in the region.

The statement said the two sides agreed to stay in “close contact”, maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest.

In line with a decision taken at the 16th round of military talks, the two sides carried out disengagement from Patrolling Point 15 in the Gogra-Hotsprings area in September last year.

The Corps Commander-level talks were instituted to resolve the Eastern Ladakh row. 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, which 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 on the north and south banks of the Pangong Lake and in the Gogra area.

It was not immediately known whether there was any forward movement at the talks in the resolution of pending issues.

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