'Good signs': India, China take small, sure steps to resolve Ladakh standoff

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India and China are taking incremental steps to resolve the month-long troops standoff at four points in eastern Ladakh, people familiar with the development told Hindustan Times after the meeting between military commanders of the two armies at the Moldo-Chushul border meeting.

Saturday’s 7-hour-long meeting was the first meeting at the level of lieutenant generals of the two armies locked in the border standoff that began with a confrontation between rival patrols near Pangong lake on May 5. Over the next few days, three more standoff points emerged near Galwan River.

Lt General Harinder Singh, the Leh-based 14 Corps Commander, led a 10-member Indian team. The Chinese delegation was led by South Xinjiang Military District Commander Major General Liu Lin.

The discussion, said to have been held in a ‘cordial and positive atmosphere’, stretched well into the Saturday evening with both sides not only discussing the standoff points but also the friction caused by upgradation of border infrastructure on both sides.

“The direction of the military commanders talks was positive and both sides showed the inclination to resolve…..so there were good signs,” said a senior official.

But the two sides also expect the resolution to be a long-drawn process. They have, however, agreed that the militaries should not allow the situation along the Line of Actual Control to escalate.

“It is going to be a deliberate process where the two sides negotiate and resolve the differences, step by step,” a person familiar with the development said, requesting anonymity

It is understood that the two military commanders favoured continuing the talks at the brigade and battalion commander level to resolve all the outstanding issues, point by point, the person mentioned above said. This implies that the next round of discussions could be led by teams led by Brigadier and Colonel-rank officers.

An external affairs ministry statement released on Sunday said: “Both sides agreed to peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas in accordance with various bilateral agreements and keeping in view the agreement between the leaders that peace and tranquility in the India-China border regions is essential for the overall development of bilateral relations.”

While the statement notes that “early resolution” of the stand-off would contribute to further development of bilateral relationship, senior officials say that the situation will be eventually resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both the sides.

India and China have maintained communications through established diplomatic and military channels to address the situation in areas along the India-China border.

Saturday’s discussion between the military commanders was preceded by a ground-setting video conference between diplomats of the two countries that resolved to not allow their differences to escalate into disputes while respecting each other’s concerns.

The border row coincides with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries that the two sides had planned to celebrate with 70 events. “Both sides also noted that this year marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and agreed that an early resolution would contribute to the further development of the relationship,” the MEA statement said.

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