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India-China LAC standoff: 14th round of talks end in stalemate

Held at Chushul-Moldo border meeting point, talks lasted 13 hours

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The logjam continues. The 14th round of India-China Corps Commander Level Meeting failed to produce a breakthrough. A joint statement described the talks as “frank and in-depth exchange of views’’.

The talks were held at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Chinese side and lasted 13 hours. It was “agreed that both sides should follow the guidance provided by the State Leaders and work for the resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest,’’ the statement read. “It was noted that this would help in restoration of peace and tranquility along the LAC in the Western Sector and enable progress in bilateral relations. The two sides also agreed to consolidate on the previous outcomes and take effective efforts to maintain the security and stability on the ground in the Western Sector including during winter.’’

That the outcome of the talks will be inconclusive, was not totally unexpected. It is significant that the talks come at a time when the two countries have been at loggerheads over several issues. China, in December, issued Chinese names for places in Arunachal Pradesh; on January 1, a video was released by government-affiliated news organisations on Twitter suggesting that the Chinese flag was unfurled in Galwan Valley; there have been are reports of China building a bridge across Pangong Lake and finally, a letter by a Chinese embassy official went out asking Indian Parliamentarians to not attend a Tibetan event. “As is known to all, the so-called ‘Tibetan Government-in-Exile’ is an out-and-out separatist political group and an illegal organisation completely in violation of China’s Constitution and laws. It is not recognised by any country in the world,” the letter was quoted as saying.

It provoked a sharp reaction from the ministry of external affairs. “The substance, tone and tenor of the letter are inappropriate,’’ MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said. “The Chinese side should note that India is a vibrant democracy and Honourable Members of Parliament as representatives of the people undertake activities as per their views and beliefs. We expect the Chinese side to refrain from hyping normal activities by Honourable Members of Parliament and complicate further the situation in our bilateral relations.”

Despite the tensions, the two sides have continued to promise continued engagement, suggesting commitment to process. “The two sides agreed to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue via military and diplomatic channels and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest. In this context it was also agreed that the next round of the Commanders’ talks should be held at the earliest,’’ the statement said.

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