India and China have agreed to “peacefully resolve” the stand-off between their troops on the borders in the Himalayas, India’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday, a day after the neighbours held high-level military talks.
Indian and Chinese commanders held discussions spanning several hours on Saturday at a high-altitude meeting point that straddles Moldo, on the Chinese side, and Chushul on the Indian side.
The talks took place in a “cordial and positive atmosphere,” India’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“Both sides agreed to peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas in accordance with various bilateral agreements and keeping in view the agreement between the leaders that peace and tranquillity in the India-China border regions is essential for the overall development of bilateral relations,” it said.
India and China noted that this year marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations and “agreed that an early resolution would contribute to the further development of the relationship,” it said.
“Accordingly, the two sides will continue the military and diplomatic engagements to resolve the situation and to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border areas.”
Thousands of Indian and Chinese forces have faced off in the Pangong Lake and Galwan valley in the Ladakh region since early May, accusing each other of trespassing on each country’s boundaries, Indian media reported.
Brawls involving fist-fights, stone-pelting and shouting matches occurred after Chinese troops entered deep inside Indian territory and ignored warnings to leave, the reports said.
The Chinese troops were camping at the sites, having erected tents and brought material for the construction of bunkers. India also deployed additional units in the area.
Saturday’s talks, in which both sides were led by area commanders of the rank of lieutenant general, were at the highest-military level so far, showing the seriousness of the recent conflict.
Multiple talks between local military officers had failed to end the impasse. Indian and Chinese foreign ministry officials also discussed the boundary tensions on Friday.
Sunday’s statement suggested there was no tangible outcome to the row as the focus of latest talks was reportedly to get both the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army to pull back additional troops and equipment deployed in the area.
The likely provocation for the face-off was China’s stiff opposition to India’s laying of a key road in the area around the Pangong Lake, and the construction of another road connecting the Galwan valley to an airstrip, Indian reports said.
India has sped up infrastructure projects, including the construction of roads and bridges in the remote border regions near China.
Beijing has long carried out such activities, which have been criticized by Indian officials.
U.S. President Donald Trump recently offered to mediate between both sides to resolve the dispute, but both New Delhi and Beijing maintained they were holding talks on the matter.
India and China dispute several sections along their ill-defined, 3,500-kilometre border, most of which runs along the Himalayan range.
The two countries fought a war over their border in 1962.
These are the worst India-China border tensions since a 2017 face-off at the uninhabited Doklam plateau in the eastern Himalayas, which continued for more than 70 days.
The stand-off saw troops dispatched to Doklam from both sides after China attempted to build a road through the plateau, which is claimed by Bhutan, a close ally of India.