A statement from India’s Foreign Ministry did not describe the talks at Chushul in detail but it struck a conciliatory tone, saying that the two countries would continue to negotiate through long-established military and political channels of communication.
“Both sides agreed to peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas in accordance with various bilateral agreements and keeping in view the agreements between the leaders that peace and tranquility in the India-China border regions is essential for the overall development of bilateral relations.”
The statement referred to recent summits between the two countries’ leaders, India’s Narenda Modi of India and China’s Xi Jinping, both of whom seemed intent on setting aside decades of animosity and conflict. They last met in India in October, promising to increase economic and security cooperation.
Each side has blamed the other for disrupting the status quo along the frontier, which remains unmarked and fiercely disputed in places.
China appeared to have stepped up its activity in the area this spring after the recent expansion of a road network on the Indian side of the border. India has been trying to strengthen its defences in the remote region, where altitudes exceed 4,000 metres.
Friction in the area is frequent, and a series of confrontations erupted last month along several points of a border that stretches more than 3380 kilometres. That raised fears in India of a coordinated push by China to seize territory at a time when the world is distracted by the coronavirus pandemic.
In the Galwan Valley, not far from Pangong Tso, Chinese troops were reported to have crossed several kilometres beyond what India considers its side of the frontier, known as the Line of Actual Control, according to news reports that cited Indian officials. The two countries went to war in the region in 1962.
Both nations reportedly sent in reinforcements after the clashes, though information from the remote region is limited and tightly controlled by the military on both sides.
The United States, siding with India, has criticised China’s recent actions along the border.
“The Chinese Communist Party has been on this effort, on this march, for an awfully long time,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week. “They’ll certainly use a tactical situation on the ground to their advantage.”
-New York Times