India and China will resolve a dispute on their contested borders “peacefully” the Indian External Affairs Ministry said Sunday, a day after military commanders from the two countries met to find a solution to their monthlong standoff in the Himalayas.
The face-off, in eastern Ladakh, a region bordering China, which controls access to several strategic points on their Himalayan border, began with a confrontation between patrolling soldiers from the two countries in early May. While Indian officials have said Chinese soldiers entered Indian-controlled territory, erecting tents and posts in three places, China has denied it breached the “Line of Actual Control” — the border between the countries — and said there is stability in the area.
Analysts said while the talks may have defused the tensions that have led to a buildup of troops from both sides, they do not see an early resolution to the latest border dispute between the Asian giants.
Both sides have since deployed additional troops, artillery and weapons in the Himalayan region.
Several stretches of the 3,488-kilometer border in the high mountains between India and China are contested and have triggered confrontations in the past.
Saturday’s talks were held at a Himalayan region border post.
“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 tranquility in the India-China border regions is essential for the overall development of bilateral relations,” according to the ministry statement.
The statement said that the two countries will continue the military and diplomatic engagements to ensure “peace and tranquility in the border areas,” and that an early resolution “would contribute to the further development of the relationship."
However, observers in New Delhi are not optimistic that much headway was made during the recent talks.
“I don’t think either side is backing down. They may have agreed to not take the next escalatory step, but it is not an end to the confrontation,” according to security expert, Bharat Karnad at New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research.
Analysts say the spark for the military standoff between the Asian neighbors could have been building of roads and other border infrastructure by India in recent years to match the Chinese infrastructure on its side.
India wants restoration of status quo in the area. According to Karnad, though, “the Chinese keep presenting India with new status quo's and you are stuck with it. So what status quo are we talking about? We are losing out.”
The India-China standoff is likely to drag on through the summer as troops from both sides dig in, the Times of India newspaper said this week.