India, China army talks to defuse border tensions fail

New Delhi, Oct. 11 (BNA): Talks between Indian and Chinese military commanders to disengage forces from key friction areas along their border ended in a stalemate and failed to ease a 17-month standoff that has sometimes led to bloody clashes. The two sides said Monday.

The ongoing standoff means the two nations will keep troops in front areas in Ladakh for the second consecutive winter in frigid temperatures, the Associated Press reported.

India’s Defense Ministry, in a statement, said it had made “constructive suggestions” but the Chinese side was “unacceptable” and “cannot make any forward-looking proposals”. “The Indian side adheres to unreasonable and unrealistic demands, which adds difficulties to the negotiations,” said a statement issued by a Chinese military spokesman.

Commanders from both armies met for talks Sunday after a two-month break in Moldo on the Chinese side in Ladakh region.

Since February, India and China have both withdrawn their forces from some standoff positions on the northern and southern banks of the Pangong Tso, Gogra and Galwan Valley, but continue to maintain additional forces as part of a multi-level deployment.

Indian media reports said that troops were added to the Dimchok and Dipsang plains.

Sunday’s talks come amid frustration expressed by the Indian army chief over what he described as the massive deployment of troops and weapons by the Chinese side.

“Yes, it is a matter of concern that large-scale construction has taken place and is still going on, and to perpetuate this kind of build-up there has been an equal amount of infrastructure development on the Chinese side,” the general said. MM Naravane said on Saturday.

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“So, it means they (China) are there to stay. We are watching all of these developments closely, but if they are there to stay, we are there to stay too.

“China’s determination to protect its sovereignty is unwavering, and China hopes that India will not misjudge the situation,” said the Chinese statement by Colonel Long Shaohua of the Western Theater Command.

Temperatures in the front areas of Ladakh drop to minus 30 Celsius (minus 22 Fahrenheit) around January. Forces on both sides used to retreat to their traditional summer positions around this time, but since the start of the confrontation in May 2020 they have continued to remain near the disputed border.

Both countries placed tens of thousands of soldiers, backed by artillery, tanks, and fighter jets, along the de facto border called the Line of Actual Control. Last year, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese soldiers using batons, stones and fists along the disputed border. China said it lost four soldiers.

The Line of Actual Control separates the territories controlled by China and India from Ladakh in the west to the state of Arunachal Pradesh in eastern India, which is fully claimed by China. India and China fought a bloody cross-border war in 1962.

Since the standoff began last year, the Chinese have built dozens of large, weather-resistant structures along the Latin American and Caribbean region in eastern Ladakh for their forces to stay in through the winter. New airstrips, expanded airstrips, new barracks, new surface-to-air missile sites and radar sites were also reported by Indian media.

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