India, China hold 15-hour meeting to discuss Ladakh border standoff
The ninth round of talks between India and China to resolve the Ladakh standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on Sunday lasted for over 15 hours, officials aware of the development said on Monday. The outcome of the meeting, however, is not known yet. The corps commander-level talks between the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), held at Moldo on the Chinese side of the LAC, began at 11am on Sunday and concluded around 2:30am on Monday.
Eastern Ladakh continues to remain tense as two sides have been locked in a lingering border standoff that also has impacted bilateral ties. The soldiers of both the Indian Army and PLA are deployed eyeball-to-eyeball at friction points on the contested border.
“The ground situation remains as it was in August-September (when Indian Army took control of key heights on the southern bank of Pangong Tso). The military dialogue alone is unlikely to yield results. Diplomatic efforts will have to progress simultaneously,” an official familiar with the development said before the meeting ended.
While India has been consistently pushing for comprehensive disengagement at all flashpoints and restoration of status quo ante of early April 2020 during the ongoing military talks, the Chinese side wants the Indian army to first pull back troops deployed on strategic heights on the southern bank of Pangong Tso.
“Neither side is willing to vacate the positions held by them. It seems unlikely that the standoff will be resolved in the short term. However, talks will go on as it is important not to break communication,” another official said.
Earlier this month, army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said that the Indian Army was prepared to hold its ground in eastern Ladakh “for as long as it takes” to achieve national objectives in case the ongoing military and diplomatic talks with China are prolonged. Meanwhile, the PLA has moved back at least 10,000 soldiers from depth areas to rear positions but its frontline deployments remain unchanged.
Senior Indian and Chinese commanders met on November 6 last year for the eighth round of military talks, which remained inconclusive.
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