India, China hold third meeting on border affairs

Amid reports of fresh incursions by Chinese troops in Ladakh’s Chumar sector, India and China on Tuesday began two-day talks here as part of a mechanism to ensure peace and tranquility on their disputed 3,500 km long boundary.

India is expected to raise the incursion by Chinese troops in April that led to a three-week standoff as well as the recent intrusions in Chumar during the third Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs meeting being held here.

The Indian side is led by Gautam Bambawale, joint secretary (East Asia) in the external affairs ministry, and also includes representatives of the defence and home ministries, as well as other officials.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in a statement that the meeting is part of a regular series of interactions between both sides. The first meeting was held in March 2012 and the last in November, 2012. He said the meeting ‘deals with all issues relating to peace and tranquility on the border since the last meeting in November 2012’.

He clarified that the meeting would not deal with boundary issues ‘as those are being handled by the Special Representatives of both sides. Also, the meeting does not discuss the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement because there are separate mechanisms to deal with that’. The 15 April intrusion by Peoples Liberation Army troops in Ladakh’s Depsang area, which stretched to three weeks with the Chinese side pitching troops, had led to heightening of tension between both sides. It was resolved following intense negotiations through their joint mechanisms for resolving such issues.

According to reports, Chinese troops on horseback crossed the Line of Actual Control on three occasions - on 16, 17 and 20 July in Chumar and on one occasion held posters asking the Indian forces to ‘vacate Chinese territory’.

India is in a relatively sound position with roads and surveillance towers in Chumar, which the Chinese are unhappy over. The talks also come on a day that China’s state-run Xinhua news agency in a commentary has said it is ‘unwise to let isolated incidents’ along the border impact on bilateral ties.
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