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India and China look to ease tensions in disputed Himalayan region

World News | Published:

Generals are scheduled to meet at a border post.

Children play cricket by Pangong Lake, near the India-China border in Ladakh, India (Channi Anand/AP)

Indian and Chinese foreign ministry officials discussed the flaring of tensions on their disputed Himalayan border, where thousands of soldiers from the two countries have been facing off just a few hundred metres from each other for a month, an Indian official said.

The video conference came a day before generals in the Ladakh region are scheduled to meet at a border post to intensify efforts for a pullback to their pre-May positions in the region.

The army officers have held a series of meetings in the past four weeks to break the impasse.

An External Affairs Ministry statement in New Delhi said both sides agreed that they should handle their differences through peaceful discussion “bearing in mind the importance of respecting each other’s sensitivities, concerns and aspirations and not allow them to become disputes”.

Indian officials say Chinese soldiers entered the Indian-controlled territory of Ladakh in early May at three different points, erecting tents and guard posts.

An Indian Army lorry crosses Chang la pass near Pangong Lake in Ladakh (Manish Swarup/AP)
An Indian Army lorry crosses Chang la pass near Pangong Lake in Ladakh (Manish Swarup/AP)

They said the Chinese soldiers ignored repeated verbal warnings to leave, triggering shouting matches, stone-throwing and fistfights.

China has sought to downplay the confrontation while providing little information.

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Indian media reports say that the two armies have moved artillery guns in the region.

China has objected to India building a road through a valley connecting the region to an airstrip, possibly sparking its move to assert control over territory along the border that is not clearly defined in places.

India and China fought a border war in 1962 and have been trying since the early 1990s to settle their dispute without success.

In all, China claims some 35,000 square miles of territory in India’s northeast, including the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh with its traditionally Buddhist population.

India says China occupies 15,000 square miles of its territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau in the western Himalayas, including part of the Ladakh region.

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