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New Delhi: In a sign of deteriorating relations, India and China have for the first time issued accusatory press statements after the latest round of high-level military talks over the stand-off in eastern Ladakh. Both countries have pointed fingers at each other for being obstructive.
In the recent past, India and China have issued joint press release for several rounds of military talks, including the last one. However, even when separate press notes were issued by both sides, the language had always been mild and positive, until after Sunday’s talks.
The 13th round of military talks between India and China did not produce any resolution of the remaining issues in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army said on Monday a day after the dialogue. It said the Indian side made “constructive suggestions” for resolving the remaining areas but the Chinese side was not agreeable to them and also could not provide any forward-looking proposals.
“The meeting thus did not result in resolution of the remaining areas,” the Army said in a statement. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs too shared a similar statement.
The talks took place on the Chushul-Moldo border point on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh on Sunday and lasted for around 8.5 hours.
The Army said the Indian side pointed out that the situation along the LAC had been caused by “unilateral attempts” by the Chinese side to alter the status quo and in violation of bilateral agreements. “It was, therefore, necessary that the Chinese side take appropriate steps in the remaining areas so as to restore peace and tranquillity along the LAC,” the Army said.
The Indian delegation also emphasised that a resolution of the remaining issues would facilitate progress in bilateral relations. “During the meeting, the Indian side, therefore, made constructive suggestions for resolving the remaining areas but the Chinese side was not agreeable and also could not provide any forward-looking proposals,” the Army said.
It said the two sides have agreed to maintain communications and also to maintain stability on the ground.
“It is our expectation that the Chinese side will take into account the overall perspective of bilateral relations and will work towards early resolution of the remaining issues while fully abiding by bilateral agreements and protocols,” the Army said.
China too had issued an accusatory statement on Sunday night. However, instead of coming from the defence ministry in Beijing as most previous statements have, this one came from the People’s Liberation Army Western Theatre Command in Chengdu. In the statement, China accused India of making “unreasonable demands”.
“Instead of misjudging the situation, the Indian side should cherish the hard-won situation in China-India border areas,” said Senior Colonel Long Shaohua, spokesperson for the Western Theater Command.
“China had made great efforts to promote the easing and cooling of the border situation and fully demonstrated its sincerity in order to maintain the overall situation of the relations between the two militaries.”
“However, India still insisted on the unreasonable and unrealistic demands, which made the negotiations more difficult,” he said. The spokesperson added that “China’s resolve to safeguard national sovereignty is firm”. He asked India “to not misjudge the situation” and to “cherish the hard-won situation in the China-India border areas and abide by relevant agreements and consensus between the two countries and the two militaries”.
The latest setback in military talks takes place in backdrop of the Indian prime minister travelling to Washington to take part in the first in-person Quad summit. Modi had also claimed during his speech at the UN general assembly that controversies over COVID-19 origin and ‘ease of doing business index’ had negatively impacted the reputation of world bodies. Both these controversies have China at their core.
The Quad members are also slated to hold the second phase of Malabar naval exercises from October 12 in the Bay of Bengal. Australia had been invited by India to join the Malabar exercises with the US and Japan last November, after a gap of 13 years.
(With PTI inputs)