India and China hold talks in Delhi over border tension

No agreement yet on 4,000km Himalayan boundary where deadly clashes took place in 2020

An Indian border post near the frontier with China at Khinzemane, in India's Arunachal Pradesh state. AFP
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Indian and Chinese foreign ministry officials met in New Delhi on Wednesday to discuss bilateral issues and “disengage” their militaries at friction points along their disputed border.

The two countries share a nearly 4,000km undemarcated border that traverses the Himalayas from Ladakh in the north to eastern Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, known as the line of actual control.

They have had frosty diplomatic relations since deadly clashes in 2020, when their troops fought in the Ladakh region.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs said a meeting on border affairs was held on Wednesday in Delhi.

The Indian team was led by Shilpak Ambule, the ministry's joint secretary for East Asia, while Hong Liang, director general of the Boundary and Oceanic Affairs Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led China's team.

The sides discussed “disengagement in remaining areas in a frank and open manner”, the Indian ministry said. “Restoration of peace and tranquillity will create conditions for normalising bilateral relations,” it added.

Fighting along the line of control in May 2020 left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

The clashes triggered the mobilisation of tens of thousands of soldiers from both sides to the treacherous high-altitude border, where they fought a war in 1962.

While the troops disengaged from a key standoff point in the Ladakh region in September, the issues related to the boundary remain.

The Indian ministry said the sides agreed to hold another round of high-level military talks soon.

Senior military officials have spoken 18 times but have so-far failed to reach an agreement.

Indian and Chinese officials held in-person talks in Beijing in February.

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar also spoke to Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang in May at the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation Foreign Ministers Council.

He said that “resolving outstanding issues and ensuring peace and tranquillity” in the border areas was the main focus.

The two ministers are expected to meet again at Thursday's Brics foreign ministers’ summit in Cape Town, South Africa.

Updated: June 01, 2023, 9:55 AM