NEW DELHI, India, 18 December 2020
Indian and Chinese foreign ministry officials held another round of talks on Friday but didn’t report any breakthrough in ending a monthslong military standoff along their disputed border in eastern Ladakh.
The two sides agreed to continue to work toward a complete disengagement of troops at all friction points along the Line of Actual Control, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said.
The standoff between the Asian giants erupted into a fierce brawl in May and worsened into hand-to-hand combat on 15 June with soldiers using clubs, stones and fists, leaving 20 Indian troops dead. China is believed to also have suffered casualties, but has not given any details.
The foreign ministry officials met via video conferencing on Friday and reviewed developments since their last meeting in September, Srivastava said in a statement.
They agreed that senior army commanders from the two sides should meet at an early date “so that both sides can work toward early and complete disengagement of troops along the LAC in accordance with the existing bilateral agreements and protocols, and fully restore peace and tranquility,” the statement said. Senior army commanders have met eight times since May.
India and China have each stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets despite the harsh winter weather in the cold-desert region, where temperatures can fall to minus 50 degrees Celsius (minus 58 Fahrenheit).
The fiercely contested Line of Actual Control separates Chinese-held and Indian-held territories from Ladakh in the west to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety. It is broken in parts where the Himalayan nations of Nepal and Bhutan border China.
India claims the Chinese-controlled Aksai Chin plateau as part of the Ladakh region.
According to India, the control line is 3,488 kilometres (2,167 miles) long, while China says it is considerably shorter. The line divides the areas of physical control rather than territorial claims.
The two countries fought a border war in 1962 that spilled into Ladakh and ended in an uneasy truce. Since then, troops have guarded the undefined border and occasionally brawled.