The 18th round of India-China military talks held on Sunday at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point set the stage for the likely meeting between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers’ meeting this week in New Delhi.

Shangfu is visiting India for the first time since the Galwan Valley clashes in 2020.

There was, however, no indication of any forward movement in resolution of the friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The Indian delegation was led by 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen Rashim Bali; Shilpak Ambule, Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the Ministry of External Affairs, was a part of the meeting.

In a statement issued on Monday, New Delhi said the two sides had a frank and in-depth discussion on the resolution of the relevant issues along the LAC in the western sector to restore peace and tranquility in the border areas, which will enable progress in bilateral relations.

“In line with the guidance provided by the State leaders and further to the meeting between the two foreign ministers in March 2023, they had an exchange of views in an open and candid manner,” the statement said.

It said in the interim, the two sides have agreed to maintain security and stability on the ground in the western sector.

“The two sides agreed to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest,” the statement said.

The statement was issued by India. During the previous round of military talks in December, a joint statement was issued by both sides.

Government sources said while legacy issues along the LAC such as Depsang Plains and Demchok will be discussed in subsequent meetings and at the political level, discussions were primarily on confidence-building measures and avoiding confrontation at the borders in the coming months.

Aside from the high-level military talks, there would be regular interactions between battalion and brigade commanders of both sides as well.

The last forward movement at the LAC in eastern Ladakh took place in September last year when both sides pulled back troops to disengage from Patrolling Point-15 in the Gogra-Hot Springs area of eastern Ladakh.

This marked a step forward in the military standoff between the two sides which began in May 2020.


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