Indian, Chinese army commanders meet to end border standoff

Dec 21, 2022, 2:13 PM | Updated: Dec 22, 2022, 4:15 am

NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian and Chinese military commanders met in yet another attempt to end a more-than-two-year-old standoff between tens of thousands of their soldiers along their disputed border that triggered bloody clashes in 2020, an Indian Defense Ministry statement said on Thursday.

The 17th round of talks was held at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Chinese side on Tuesday, the statement said. It gave no indication of whether a breakthrough had been reached to end the impasse.

There was no immediate comment by the Chinese side.

Indian army chief Manoj Pande said last month there had been “no significant reduction” in Chinese troop strength in Ladakh. He said the border situation was “stable but unpredictable.”

However, Tuesday’s meeting between the army commanders is expected to lower tensions as it came less than two weeks after another clash between soldiers in India’s eastern Arunachal Pradesh state that left some injured on both sides.

India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament that no Indian soldiers were seriously hurt and troops from both sides withdrew from the area soon afterward.

Though neither side has said how many were injured in the Dec. 9 clash, Indian media said at least six Indian soldiers were treated for injuries.

In June 2020, a fierce brawl exploded into hand-to-hand combat with clubs, stones and fists that left 20 Indian soldiers dead in the Galwan sector in Ladakh. China said four of its soldiers died in the incident.

On Tuesday, the corps commanders held discussions seeking the restoration of peace and tranquility along the disputed border in the western sector, known as the Line of Actual Control, the statement said.

India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of its territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau, which India considers part of Ladakh, where the current face-off is happening.

India says any unilateral change in the border status quo by Beijing is unacceptable.

Both countries have stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along the de facto border.

Since February last year, both India and China have withdrawn troops from some locations on the northern and southern banks of Pangong Tso, Gogra and Galwan Valley, but they continue to maintain extra troops as part of a multi-tier deployment.

Troops have been added at Demchok and Depsang Plains, Indian media reports say.

The Line of Actual Control separates Chinese and Indian-held territories from Ladakh in the west to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety. India and China fought a deadly war over the border in 1962.

Since the standoff began in 2020, China has been building dozens of large weatherproof structures along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh for their troops to stay in during the winter. New helipads, widened airstrips, new barracks, new surface-to-air missile sites and radar locations have also been reported by Indian media.

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Indian, Chinese army commanders meet to end border standoff