India, China military talks to ease tensions at the border fail

Talks between Indian and Chinese military commanders to withdraw troops from key disputed areas along their border have ended in a stalemate and failed to defuse a 17-month confrontation that has sometimes led to deadly clashes, the two sides said Monday.

As the stalemate continues, both countries will keep troops in the frontline area of ​​Ladakh for the second winter in a row amid dangerously frigid temperatures.

India’s defense ministry, in a statement, said it provided “constructive suggestions” but the Chinese side “did not agree” and “couldn’t make any proposals on future plans.” A statement from a Chinese military spokesman said “the Indian side persists in unreasonable and unrealistic demands, adding to the difficulties in negotiations.”

Commanders from the two sides met for talks Sunday after the two-month-long border violation in Moldo by the Chinese side in the Ladakh area.

Since February, India and China have withdrawn troops from several confrontation locations on the northern and southern edges of Pangong Tso, Gogra and the Galwan Valley, but they continue to maintain additional troops as part of a layered troop deployment.

According to various Indian media reports, additional troops have been deployed in the Demchok and Depsang Plains.

Sunday’s talks took place amid frustrations expressed by India’s military commander about what he called the Chinese side’s massive deployment of troops and weapons.

Indian soldiers, tanks withdraw from the shores of the Pangong Tso lake region, in Ladakh along the India-China border on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. (Photo: AP)

Indian soldiers, tanks withdraw from the shores of the Pangong Tso lake region, in Ladakh along the India-China border on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. (Photo: AP)

“Yes, this is a worrying issue because large-scale deployments have taken place and are continuing, and in order to maintain that troop increase, there is an equally large infrastructure development on the Chinese side,” General MM Naravane said, Saturday (9/10).

“So this means China is there to defend. We are keeping a close eye on all these developments, but if they are here to defend, we will be there to defend too.”

China’s statement, from Senior Colonel Long Shaohua of the Western Region Command said “China’s determination to safeguard its sovereignty has not wavered, and China hopes India will not misjudge the situation.”

Frontline temperatures in Ladakh drop to minus 30 degrees Celsius around January. Troops from both sides usually retreat to their usual positions in the summer, but since the confrontation began in May 2020 they have continued to remain close to the disputed border.

The two countries have deployed tens of thousands of troops backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets on the de facto border called the Line of Actual Control. Last year, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in clashes with Chinese troops that involved the use of batons, stones and crossfire on the disputed border. China said four of its soldiers were killed at the time. [uh/ab]

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