India, China to hold another round of diplomatic talks on border standoff on Thursday

Thursday’s talks will be the fifth engagement at the diplomatic level since the border standoff emerged into the open in early May and the Indian side is expected to reiterate its call for China to work sincerely towards complete disengagement and de-escalation along the LAC.
Five rounds of talks between the corps commanders have failed to break the deadlock on border issue between India and China.(REUTERS File)
Five rounds of talks between the corps commanders have failed to break the deadlock on border issue between India and China.(REUTERS File)
Updated on Aug 19, 2020 07:36 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

India and China will hold another round of talks on Thursday under the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs in an effort to break the impasse along the Line of Control (LAC), people familiar with developments said.

The meeting between diplomats of the two sides, to be held via video conference, comes at a time when military talks on reducing tensions along the disputed border have hit a roadblock, and the Indian Army has adopted a tougher line in its efforts to restore status quo ante in eastern Ladakh.

This will be the fifth engagement at the diplomatic level since the border standoff emerged into the open in early May and the Indian side is expected to reiterate its call for China to work sincerely towards complete disengagement and de-escalation along the LAC, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.

Amid a growing realisation in New Delhi that there is unlikely to be a breakthrough through the talks between the corps commanders, the Indian envoy in Beijing, Vikram Misri, has been tasked to reach out to top Chinese leaders to discuss ways to end the standoff, the people said.

Misri met Maj Gen Ci Guowei of the Central Military Commission’s (CMC) office of international military cooperation, and Liu Jianchao, deputy director of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) central committee’s foreign affairs commission, in Beijing last week. The people said more such meetings were on the cards.

There was no official word from either India or China on the WMCC meeting, though the people said it would meet on Thursday afternoon.

“We have already said China needs to work with us for complete disengagement and de-escalation on the LAC as the future of the bilateral relationship is dependent on the situation along the border. That continues to be our position,” said one of the people cited above.

The Indian side has also made it clear that the sanctity of the LAC is non-negotiable, the people added.

Five rounds of talks between the corps commanders have failed to break the deadlock due to serious differences in the Finger Area near Pangong Lake and the PLA’s reluctance to vacate positions held by it in what New Delhi claims as Indian territory.

Former ambassador Rajiv Bhatia, distinguished fellow for foreign policy studies at Gateway House, said India had shown “ample commitment and efforts” to end the standoff and much would now depend on China’s response.

“It seems to me the WMCC meeting should show some of the results of the efforts by our envoy in Beijing, who has met officials of CPC and CMC. These meetings were also put in the public domain by the Indian side to reflect the sincerity of its efforts through all possible channels,” he said.

“There is also a feeling among military experts that the talks at the military level should now stop, as this matter should really be the responsibility of diplomats and the standoff should be addressed through the existing political and diplomatic channels,” he added.

“The Chinese are playing things down and saying that they attach importance to our relations and that they want good ties. We should keep an open mind and hope they will start responding meaningfully to India’s efforts,” Bhatia said.

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Sunday, June 26, 2022