The ninth round of talks aimed at defusing tensions came days after Indian and Chinese soldiers once again fought along the border.
India and China said the latest round of talks between their country’s army commanders to resolve a border clash in the Himalayan region of Ladakh had been “positive, practical and constructive.”
“The two sides have agreed to press for a rapid disengagement of frontline troops,” a joint statement issued by India’s defense ministry said Monday.
The government said the ninth round of talks on Sunday had also “enhanced mutual trust and understanding”, with the two countries willing to “maintain the right momentum for dialogue and negotiation.”
The statement came hours after Indian officials said soldiers from neighbors with nuclear weapons scuffled last week along a controversial stretch of their shared border in the eastern Himalayas.
“There was a minor confrontation in the Naku La area of northern Sikkim on January 20, 2021 and the same was resolved by local commanders in accordance with established protocols,” the Indian military said in a statement, without give more details.
Naku La connects the Indian state of Sikkim with the region of Tibet in China. Sikkim is thousands of miles from Ladakh where the military crisis began last year and erupted into hand-to-hand combat that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and an unknown number of Chinese casualties.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said he had nothing to offer on last week’s incident, but urged India “not to take any unilateral action that could complicate or further exacerbate border tension “.
Monday’s joint statement did not address last week’s incident.
India and China are locked in a tense military standoff from the top of May in the Karakoram Mountains, with troops settling in for the harsh winter. The two sides mobilized tens of thousands of troops, artillery and fighter jets along the fiercely contested border known as the Real Line of Control, or LAC, which separates the territories under Chinese and Indian control. from Ladakh in the west to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. , which China claims in its entirety.
Since then, soldiers from the two countries have occasionally scuffled and fired for the first time in decades, breaking a long-standing agreement not to use firearms in border clashes.
Two Indian security officials said at least 18 Chinese soldiers attempted to enter India’s claimed territory in Naku La on Wednesday evening and were blocked by Indian soldiers, resulting in clashes with sticks and stones . Officials, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue and in accordance with government regulations, said soldiers on both sides carried guns but did not use them. not.
The two officials said more than a dozen Indian soldiers and at least eight Chinese soldiers were slightly injured.
Both sides rushed more troops into the region in an “aggressive deployment” that pushed the number of troops to hundreds, officials said.
The leader of India’s main opposition party in Congress, Rahul Gandhi, accused China of “extending its occupation into Indian territory” and questioned the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Modi “hasn’t said the word ‘China’ in months,” Gandhi said in a tweet on Monday. “Maybe he can say the word ‘China’ first.”
The border is broken in areas where the Himalayan nations of Nepal and Bhutan border with China and where Sikkim, the site of the latest brawl, is sandwiched.
The LAC divides areas of physical control rather than land claims. Despite more than three dozen rounds of talks over the years and multiple meetings between Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, they are far from settling the dispute.