India and China will continue the ongoing military and diplomatic-level dialogues to arrive at a “mutually acceptable solution” to the months-long face-off between their troops along the Line of Actual Control — the de-facto border — in eastern Ladakh, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday. “Let me make it clear that there is no connection between this (India-China talks) and any ‘extraneous issue’,” the ministry spokesperson, Anurag Srivastava, replied, when asked whether China has delayed the next round of military talks due to the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement between India and the US at the 2+2 dialogue.
The ministry’s remarks come a day after China, in a statement, said the “boundary question is a bilateral matter” and there was “no space” for a third party to intervene. China was responding to the remark of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who was in India earlier this week for the third edition of the US-India 2+2 dialogue – that the US “will stand with India as they confront threats to their sovereignty, liberty.”
“We have maintained communications with the Chinese side with a view to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution to the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh and restore full peace and tranquillity…As regards the next round of talks, we will let you know when we have further information to share,” Mr Srivastava said.
“As regards the recent 2+2, may I remind you the EAM had stated that the Indo-Pacific region was the particular focus of our talks. We reiterated the importance of peace, stability and prosperity for all countries in this region. This is possible only by upholding the rules based international order, ensuring the freedom of navigation in the international seas, promoting open connectivity and respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states,” he added.
The stand-off in Ladakh was discussed at a meeting of the US leaders and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
During his visit, Mr Pompeo, a bitter critic of China and its ruling Communist Party, had paid homage to the 20 Indian soldiers who lost their lives in the line of duty at Galwan Valley in a June clash with Chinese soldiers.
China described Mr Pompeo’s remarks as an attempt to meddle in the bilateral issues between two countries. “By hyping up the so-called ‘China threat’, the US is in fact making pretexts for maintaining its global hegemony and containing China’s development,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.
It also alleged that the ‘Indo-Pacific’ strategy was proposed by the US to “stoke geopolitical competition, in a bid to maintain the dominance of the US”.