Indian and Chinese army commanders agreed to work swiftly toward easing a border dispute, setting the stage for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping to potentially meet at key summits in the coming weeks.
(Bloomberg) — Indian and Chinese army commanders agreed to work swiftly toward easing a border dispute, setting the stage for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping to potentially meet at key summits in the coming weeks.
The nuclear-armed Asian neighbors, who share a 3,488 Km (2,167 miles)-long disputed border, are locked in their worst territory dispute in four decades due to a deadly clash in 2020. Several rounds of talks between the two sides have made little progress to draw back the thousands of soldiers, missiles and fighter jets positioned near the Himalayan border.
The latest round of military talks came days before Modi and Xi meet in person at the heads of state meeting for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and the Group of Twenty leaders’ meeting in September that New Delhi is hosting. A joint statement was issued, which has happened just eight times out of the 19 rounds of discussions.
Both sides agreed to resolve the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control in the Western Sector, in an expeditious manner and maintain peace in the border in the mean time, according to the statement issued after the Aug. 13-14 meeting. While this doesn’t spell out a breakthrough, the shift in language signals more openness to negotiate.
India and China commanders had a “positive, constructive and in-depth discussion” on the resolution of the remaining issues along the Line of Actual control, which refers to disputed border, the statement said.
A US lobby group with business interests in India said New Delhi has to balance its relationship with China as a simmering border stand-off is distracting Modi’s administration from making investments in infrastructure to education.
Last month, India’s government acknowledged Modi and Xi discussed bilateral ties at a G-20 summit last year, their first official contact since border clash. The comments went beyond New Delhi’s earlier statement that the leaders exchanged pleasantries.
The admission came after a Chinese readout of a discussion between India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart during a BRICS conference in Johannesburg last month. The statement from Beijing appears to be in reaction to Doval’s comments made during meeting the border dispute had “eroded strategic trust” between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.
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