Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava on Thursday said India and China would continue the ongoing talks to arrive at a “mutually agreeable solution” to the months-long military standoff along their de facto border in Ladakh. He said there was “no connection between this matter and any extraneous issues” like the 2+2 dialogue between India and the United States.
At the 2+2 dialogue, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had stepped up the Donald Trump administration’s anti-China message and said his country will stand with India in its efforts to guard its sovereignty and liberty. “Our leaders and citizens see with increasing clarity that [the] Chinese Communist Party is no friend to democracy, rule of law and transparency,” he had said.
Pompeo also paid tribute to the 20 Indian soldiers killed in the Galwan Valley clash between India and China in June, which sparked off the bitter standoff between the countries.
China responded immediately, calling out the third party intervention in a bilateral matter. Beijing said that China and India “have the wisdom and ability” to handle their differences properly and that there is “no space for a third party to intervene”.
During a press briefing on Thursday, Srivastava was asked whether China has delayed the next round of military talks between New Delhi and Beijing because of the events that transpired at the 2+2 talks. The foreign ministry spokesperson denied this and said the two sides made significant process during the last Commander-level talks held on October 12, gaining a “better understanding” of each other.
“We have maintained communications with the Chinese side with a view to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution to the situation along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh and restore full peace and tranquility,” he added. “As regards the next round of talks, we will let you know when we have further information to share...but there is no connection between this matter and any extraneous issue.”
On the US-India 2+2 dialogue, Srivastava clarified that the thrust of discussions was the Indo-Pacific. “We reiterated the importance of peace, stability and prosperity for all countries in this region,’’ he said. “That is possible only by upholding the rules based international order, ensuring the freedom of navigation in the international seas, promoting open connectivity and respecting territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states.”
The standoff astride the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh is in a stalemate since May, when Chinese troops moved to take control of the territory that had been patrolled by Indian soldiers for decades. The initial scuffles led up to a pitched battle – without firearms – in June that saw 20 Indian soldiers killed, with Beijing refusing to release casualty numbers on its side.
The sides have held several rounds of talks by military, diplomatic and political officials, including negotiations between their foreign ministers and defense ministers in Moscow last month. But the standoff has persisted, although no new military aggression has been reported for over a month now.