India and China hold 'positive' talks on decades-old border dispute

The neighbours have had frosty diplomatic relations since deadly clashes in 2020

In this undated handout photograph released by the Indian Army on February  16, 2021 shows People Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers during military disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at the India-China border in Ladakh. / AFP / INDIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENCE / - / ----EDITORS NOTE---- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / Indian Army" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----------
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India and China have agreed to resolve the remaining issues along their disputed border, in rare two-day military talks, India's External Ministry has said.

The nuclear-armed nations share a nearly 4,000-kilometre-long un-demarcated border that traverses the mighty Himalayas from Ladakh in the north to eastern Arunachal Pradesh, known as the line of actual control, or LAC.

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

India’s Ministry of External Affairs late on Monday said that the two nations held the 19th round of the India-China Corps Commander Level Meeting at Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Indian side on August 13 and 14.

A corps is a group of military divisions, usually between 30,000 to 60,000 soldiers.

“The two sides had a positive, constructive and in-depth discussion on the resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in the Western Sector. In line with the guidance provided by the leadership, they exchanged views in an open and forward looking manner,” India’s MEA said.

“They agreed to resolve the remaining issues in an expeditious manner and maintain the momentum of dialogue and negotiations through military and diplomatic channels,” it added.

The two nations in the interim have agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity on the ground in the border areas, the MEA said.

Beijing is yet to make a statement.

The meeting took place a week before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to attend the BRICS Summit in South Africa’s Johannesburg from August 22 to 24. It is expected he may meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the summit.

BRICS is a major alliance of five emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – comprising 41 per cent of the world’s population and a quarter of the global gross domestic product.

Mr Modi and Mr Xi had met in Bali last year during the G20 summit and the Chinese leader is expected to attend the summit hosted by India in New Delhi in September.

Officials of both sides have held 18 rounds of high-level talks between senior military commanders but have failed to achieve their objectives.

The two nations held an in-person meeting of foreign ministry officials in New Delhi in June for the first time in three years to iron out bilateral disputes.

In recent years, border clashes triggered the mobilisation of tens of thousands of soldiers from both sides to the treacherous high-altitude border, after their first major conflict in the area in 1962.

Recent clashes - sometimes involving iron clubs and deadly hand-to-hand fighting, triggered the mobilisation of tens of thousands of soldiers from both sides. In 2020, at least 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers died fighting on pathways near steep cliff edges.

While the troops completed disengagement from a key standoff point in the disputed Himalayan Eastern Ladakh region in September, the contentious issues related to the boundary still remain.

Updated: August 16, 2023, 6:26 AM