Wednesday, August 10, 2022

After four-month hiatus, India, China hold 16th round of talks at LAC

The four-month pause between the 15th and 16th rounds of corps commander-level talks is the longest since the standoff began in May 2020. The previous round of negotiations was held on March 11.

The Indian and Chinese armies held the 16th round of talks on Sunday to ease tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, with outstanding issues at Patrol Point-15 near Kongka La, Depsang Bulge in Daulet Beg Oldi sector, and Charding Nullah Junction (CNJ) in Demchok sector being a sticking point in the ongoing negotiations, according to officials familiar with the matter.

The talks began at 9.30 a.m. on the Indian side of the Chushul-Moldo meeting point and lasted more than 12 hours, ending at 10 p.m. The latest military dialogue also came as a result of the Indian Air Force observing Chinese air activity near the LAC, with the IAF chief stating that the air force was scrambling fighter jets whenever Chinese aircraft or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) approached the border.

According to the officials, the two sides could issue a joint statement on the talks within a day or two.

The four-month pause between the 15th and 16th rounds of corps commander-level talks is the longest since the standoff began in May 2020. On March 11, the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) held the 15th round of talks.

Despite the withdrawal of troops from the Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso, and Gogra-Hot Springs areas, both sides maintain 60,000 troops and advanced weaponry in the Ladakh theatre. The two armies held eight rounds of talks in 2020, the first in June of that year, five rounds in 2021, and three rounds this year so far.

In May 2022, the border standoff between India and China will enter its third year, casting a shadow over the bilateral relationship. Even though the two sides have had limited success in disengaging rival soldiers from some flashpoints, a full resolution is still not in sight.

On July 7, India sought an early resolution of all outstanding issues along the Laos-China border, with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar urging his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to complete troop disengagement in order to restore peace and tranquillity in border areas.

In May, Army Chief General Manoj Pande stated that the Army hoped to “re-establish trust and tranquillity” with the PLA, but warned that “it cannot be a one-way street.”

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