October 13, 2020 7:59:38 pm
A day after Indian and Chinese Corps Commanders held the seventh round of dialogue to resolve the standoff in eastern Ladakh, both sides said the talks were “positive and constructive” and agreed to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible.
The meeting took place on the Indian side of Chushul-Moldo Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) point. India and Chinese troops have been locked in a border standoff in eastern Ladakh for over five months.
“Both sides agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible. Both sides agreed to earnestly implement the important understandings reached by the leaders of the two countries, not to turn differences into disputes, and jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in the border area,” a joint statement by the two armies said.
At the first informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan in April 2018, the two sides had emphasised on not allowing “difference to become disputes”. This understanding has featured in multiple statements by the two countries since then.
While XIV Corps Commander Lt General Harinder Singh led the Indian delegation, the Chinese side was led by Major General Liu Lin, Commander of the South Xinjiang Military District.
The Indian delegation also included Naveen Srivastava, joint secretary, MEA (handling East Asia), who has been representing India in the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC). He was also part of the last meeting. For the first time, the Chinese side also had a representative from the country’s Foreign Ministry.
On Monday, US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien flagged the Communist Party of China’s (CCP) “territorial aggression” at the Indian border and US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo has said that China has amassed 60,000 troops on India’s northern border. This came ahead of US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun’s visit to India.
India has been demanding status quo ante, for troops from both sides to go back to their positions as of April-end. In the last meeting, China had insisted that Indian troops should step back from the positions occupied by them in August-end in Chushul sub-sector, allowing India to dominate the region, as the positions overlook not only the Spanggur Gap, but also China’s Moldo Garrison.
India had insisted that the entire eastern Ladakh region be discussed, where both sides have around 50,000 troops each along with additional artillery, tanks and air defence assets.
With no solution to the stalemate, even as they agreed to not send additional troops, both sides have also prepared for deployment of additional troops through the harsh winters. While they may need to pull back some troops from their positions, especially on the heights, sources said India will only reduce troop strength only if China does.
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