India, China trade blame for break down in border talks

Talks between Indian and Chinese military commanders to resolve a protracted standoff on a stretch of disputed Himalayan border have broken down, with both sides blaming each other on Monday for the failure to make progress.

Thousands of Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a high-altitude face-off in India’s Ladakh region since last year, despite the two militaries holding more than a dozen rounds of talks to diffuse the situation.

On Sunday, commanders met for the 13th time, with Indian officials emphasizing that the confrontation had been triggered by “unilateral attempts of Chinese side to alter the status quo”, India’s defence ministry said in a statement.

“During the meeting, the Indian side therefore made constructive suggestions for resolving the remaining areas but the Chinese side was not agreeable and also could not provide any forward-looking proposals,” the ministry said, adding that the meeting did not lead to a resolution.

In February, both sides had agreed to pull back troops from some areas around Pangong Tso, a glacial lake at 14,000 ft (4,270 meters), after prolonged negotiations between military commanders and diplomats of the two sides.

“The Indian side continued to insist on unreasonable and unrealistic demands, which made the negotiations more difficult,” said Long Shaohua, a spokesperson for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Western command, according to a notice posted on the command’s WeChat account.

Long said he hoped India would not “misjudge the situation” and would work with China to maintain peace in the area.

Deployments by the two sides were enhanced after clashes in June 2020, when 20 Indian soldiers were killed when soldiers fought with iron rods and stones in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.

China also suffered an unspecified number of casualties, in the first combat losses for both countries on the border in 45 years.

But troops remain in close proximity in other parts of Ladakh, an arid snow desert that straddles a part of the 3,500 km-long border between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

The two countries, which fought a border war in 1962, have over-lapping claims to large areas of territory along the frontier. – Reuters

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