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15th round of marathon China-India military talks failed to resolve Ladakh standoff

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India and China on Friday held another round of high-level military dialogue to resolve the 22-month-long standoff in eastern Ladakh, two months after the last round of such talks failed to yield any outcome in resolving the row.

The Press Trust of India quoted informed sources as saying that India pressed for early disengagement of troops in remaining friction points including resolution of pending issues in Depsang Bulge and Demchok.

The main focus of the 13-hour marathon talks was the completion of the stalled disengagement process in the Hot Springs (Patrolling Point-15) areas, the PTI said.

The Chinese delegation at the talks was to be headed by Maj Gen Yang Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang Military District. The Indian delegation at the talks is being led by Lt Gen Anindya Sengupta, the Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps.

The 14th round of talks had taken place on January 12 and it did not result in any significant headway in resolving the standoff.

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.

Both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry. Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the sensitive sector.

Joint press release

According to the joint press release published by China's Ministry of Defense on Saturday, the two sides "carried forward their discussions from the previous round held on January 12, 2022 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 two sides also reaffirmed that such a resolution would help restore peace and tranquility along the LAC in the Western Sector and facilitate progress in respect to 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, according to the joint press release.

Citing sources in the Indian defense establishment, Indian media said on Tuesday that "both sides will focus to achieve resolution of balance friction areas. Recent statements by both sides to find a mutually acceptable solution have been encouraging and positive."

Admiral John Aquilino

However, ahead of the meeting, Commander of US Indo-Pacific Command Admiral John Aquilino said on Wednesday that China-India tensions along the Line of Actual Control are the "worst" in over four decades.

"Tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the PRC (People's Republic of China) and India are the worst in over four decades," Admiral Aquilino told members of the House Armed Services Committee during the congressional hearing on the Indo-Pacific region.

Aquilino said that in October 2021, the Chinese legislature passed a land-borders law that asserts "sacred and inviolable" sovereignty and territorial integrity and provides a domestic legal framework for greater PLA (People's Liberation Army) involvement in border security.

This law took effect on January 1, 2022, representing a continuation of PRC's use of domestic law as a pretext to the use of force to resolve territorial disputes, he said.

Ely Ratner, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, said that the United States is closely watching developments along the Line of Actual Control at the India-China border.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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