India – China: 15th Round of Border Talks to Focus on Resolving Balance Friction Areas in Eastern Ladakh

Foreign Affairs

New Delhi: Moving ahead after the 14th round of talks in January this year, India and China will hold the 15th round of Corps Commander level talks on March 11 to resolve issues related to friction areas in eastern Ladakh, according to the sources in the defence establishment. With both sides hoping to find mutually acceptable solutions for the pending issues, the talks are expected to focus on achieving resolution of balance friction areas.

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The talks will be held at the Indian side of Chushul Moldo Meeting Point. Both sides will try to amicably end the 22 month long military stand-off in the remaining friction points located in eastern Ladakh. However, there was no fresh breakthrough in the 14th round of the dialogue. At the end of talks in January 2022, the joint statement stated that both sides had agreed to consolidate on the previous outcomes and to also take effective efforts to maintain the stability and security on the ground in the Western Sector including during winter.

Disengagement in the remaining friction points including finding early resolution of issues in Demchok and Depsang Bulge, were discussed in the 14th round of talks and both sides had agreed to stay in contact through military and diplomatic channels and to work towards mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest. At the 14th round of talks, the Indian delegation was led by Lt Gen Anindya Sengupta, Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps and the Chinese team headed by South Xinjiang Military District Chief Maj Gen Yang Lin.

As the relations continue to remain at rock bottom for the third year in succession, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on March 7 said that “some setbacks” in China-India relations in recent years are not in the fundamental interests of both the countries even as he stated that differences over the vexed boundary issue and territory should not “interfere with the bigger picture of bilateral cooperation”. He expressed with optimism that China and India should be partners rather than rivals.

Admitting that India’s relationship with China is going through a “very difficult phase”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar last month had emphasised that the “state of the border will determine the state of the relationship”. “For 45 years, there was peace, there was stable border management, there were no military casualties on the border from 1975. That changed because we had agreements with China not to bring military forces to the border (the Line of Actual Control or LAC) and the Chinese violated those agreements,” the minister said at Munich Security Conference.

The military standoff in eastern Ladakh had erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash between the troops of both sides in the Pangong Lake areas. Since then the two sides have been gradually enhancing their deployment by sending in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy machinery. The disengagement process in the north and south banks of the Pangong Lake and Gogra area took place after a series of several rounds of military and diplomatic talks. At present, almost 50,000 to 60,000 troops have been deployed by both India and China along the Line of Actual Control in the sensitive sector.

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