NEW DELHI — Indian and Chinese military commanders met Wednesday to discuss the withdrawal of troops from a key area along their contested border, in hopes of easing a 20-month standoff.
The 14th round of talks is being held on China’s side of the Moldo meeting point and is likely to conclude late Wednesday or Thursday, the Indian Army said.
The countries have stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along their de facto border, called the Line of Actual Control. In 2020, 20 Indian troops were killed in a clash with Chinese soldiers involving clubs, stones and fists. China said it lost four soldiers.
The commander-level talks are taking place after a gap of three months. The previous round in October ended in a stalemate, with China accusing India of sticking to “unreasonable and unrealistic demands, adding difficulties to the negotiations.”
Indian Army chief Manoj Mukund Naravane described the current situation in eastern Ladakh as “stable and under control.”
But he told reporters in New Delhi that India would not allow China to change the situation by force.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin put the responsibility on India on Tuesday, saying: “We hope the Indian side can work with China and strive to switch from emergency response to normalized management and control in the border area as soon as possible.”
Wang also described the current border situation as generally stable.
Since February last year, India and China have withdrawn troops from some sites on the northern and southern banks of Pangong Tso, Gogra and Galwan Valley, but continue to maintain extra forces as part of a multitier deployment.
Naravane said a de-escalation of the situation and the withdrawal of troops to old positions depends on the success of the talks.
The Line of Actual Control separates Chinese- and Indian-held territories from Ladakh in the west to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety. India and China fought a war over the border in 1962.