India and China have agreed to resolve the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) “in an expeditious manner” after two days of talks between military commanders at Chushul.
The 19th round of talks was held on August 13 and 14 — in contrast to previous rounds where talks did not go beyond one day — and both sides released a joint statement following the talks. No such joint release was put out after the previous 18th round.
The release that was put out in New Delhi and Beijing was short on details, only saying that “the two sides had a positive, constructive and in-depth discussion on the resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in the Western Sector.”
“In line with the guidance provided by the leadership, they exchanged views in an open and forward looking manner,” it said. “They agreed to resolve the remaining issues in an expeditious manner and maintain the momentum of dialogue and negotiations through military and diplomatic channels. In the interim, the two sides agreed to maintain the peace and tranquility on the ground in the border areas.”
The Indian side for the talks was led by Lt. Gen. Rashim Bali, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Leh-based 14 Corps. The last round of Corps Commander talks were held on the Chinese side on April 23.
Since the Corps Commander level talks in 2020, the two sides have so far undertaken disengagement from five friction points – Galwan, North and South Banks of Pangong Tso, Patrolling Points (PP) 15 and 17A in the Gogra-Hot Springs area. The last few rounds of talks have stalled over disengagement from Depsang Plains and Demchok, with China insisting that they predate the 2020 standoff.
Both sides are hoping to make headway ahead of possible upcoming meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It is expected that Mr. Xi will attend the G20 summit in New Delhi on September 9 and 10. Both leaders are also scheduled to attend the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg on August 22-24.
India has on several occasions reiterated that the bilateral relationship cannot go back to normal as long as the standoff is continuing.