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14 HOURS OF INDIA-CHINA TALKS FAIL TO BREAK LOGJAM, MORE ROUNDS OF NEGOTIATIONS AHEAD

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Senior military and diplomatic officers from India and China will have more rounds of negotiations over the immediate future of the situation in eastern Ladakh as the 14-hour meet Monday failed to break the logjam, ThePrint has learnt.

Sources in the defence, security and diplomatic establishment said there was “common understanding” on the need to disengage during the latest talks. However, the issues at hand are “complex” and the build-up at the border continues to be extremely sensitive.

On Monday, senior military and diplomatic officials from the two sides started their meeting around 9.30 am and continued until 11 pm.

The discussions were based on the five-point agenda firmed up between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart and State Councilor Wang Yi in Moscow on 10 September.

The talks were “quite positive despite lack of any apparent positive result”, said a government source.

Sources said it would have been foolhardy to expect a breakthrough. “However, the talks being held are positive. There is a common understanding that there needs to be disengagement. The fact that both military and diplomatic officers were sitting down together is a positive development,” said a second source.

A high-level debriefing is currently being held at the Ministry of Defence, said the sources, who refused to divulge more information.

The disengagement issue

During the latest round of talks, India maintained the need for complete disengagement in all trouble areas while the Chinese stressed disengagement in specific areas only, said the sources.

It was reported earlier that the talks would take place under the new rules of engagement, which forgo the earlier concept of “equitable disengagement”.

New Delhi also said Beijing will have to undertake disengagement steps first for India to follow suit, said the sources.

The delegation

The latest meeting was the first-ever joint military and diplomatic-level talks at the Chushul-Moldo meeting point on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

India was represented by 14 Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Harinder Singh, along with two officers of major general rank, four brigadiers and other colonel-level officers and translators.

They were joined by Navin Srivastava, joint secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs who looks after China. Indo-Tibetan Border Police Inspector General Deepam Seth was also a part of the delegation.

Lt. Gen. P.G.K. Menon, who has commanded a mountain division on the China border in the east and is currently posted at the Army Headquarters, was also present. He is likely to replace Singh, who is set to complete his 12-month tenure as the 14 Corps Commander in October.