Tuesday, May 21
Talks with China going on well: Rajnath on eastern Ladakh border row

Talks with China going on well: Rajnath on eastern Ladakh border row

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LEH: As the military standoff between India and China drags on along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the talks between the two sides are going on well and indicated hope for a resolution of the lingering row.

In an interview to PTI on Saturday, Singh also said that India has been developing infrastructure along the frontier with China at a rapid speed, asserting that the country’s borders will remain safe.

“The talks are going on well,” he said declining to elaborate further considering the sensitive nature of the dialogue process.

Asked whether he was hopeful of a positive outcome and an end to the nearly four-year face-off between the two militaries, Singh shot back: “If there was no hope, then why to have talks.” “They (the Chinese side) also have hope and that is why holding the talks,” he said.

The Indian and Chinese militaries have been locked in a standoff since May 2020 and a full resolution of the border row has not yet been achieved though the two sides have disengaged from a number of friction points.

The defence minister also took a potshot at the Congress for continuously targeting the government on the eastern Ladakh standoff.

“They (Congress) are questioning the bravery of Indian soldiers … who are you demoralising? What is your intention? I can also go back to 1962 as well,” he said.

The ties between the two countries nosedived significantly following the fierce clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.

India has been maintaining that its ties with China cannot be normal unless there is peace in the border areas.

The two sides held the last round of high-level military talks in February with an aim to resolve the row.
Though there was no indication of a breakthrough at the 21st round of talks, both sides agreed to maintain “peace and tranquillity” on the ground and continue the communication on the way ahead.
The next round of military talks is expected to be held soon.

In January, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande said the situation along the LAC in eastern Ladakh is “stable” but “sensitive” and asserted that the Indian troops are maintaining a “very high state” of operational preparedness to effectively deal with any eventualities.

Gen Pande also said that both India and China continue to hold talks at military and diplomatic levels with an aim to return to the “status quo ante” that existed in the middle of 2020.

To resolve the face-off, the two countries are also holding diplomatic talks under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India–China border affairs.

Following the Galwan Valley clashes, India has been majorly focusing on boosting its overall military capability along the frontier with China.

The Army has significantly bolstered deployment of troops and weaponry along the nearly 3,500 km-long LAC, including in the Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh sectors, following the clashes.

The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake area.

As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in several friction points, including on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area. (Agencies)

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