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China-India conflict: Military bosses meet amid fears of all-out war on disputed border

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Tens of thousands of troops on both sides are currently stationed in freezing temperatures around the region of Ladakh in a bitter standoff that has lasted for months. Tensions in the area flared last year after a clash between groups of Indian and Chinese troops left at least 20 soldiers dead in June.

While both sides have placed air and land defences along the boundary that separates them, they have also engaged in peace talks.

Now, Indian media outlets say the ninth round of talks at the military commander level was held on Sunday morning.

It comes after a gap of two and a half months since the last commander-level talks were held in November 2020.

Indian army soldier holding a gun

Commanders have held several talks to date to defuse tensions (Image: Yawar Nazir / Getty)

On the Indian side Lt Gen PGK Menon, Commander of the 14 Corps which is based in Leh, attended.

His Chinese counterpart was Major General Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang Military region, according to The Indian Express.

The talks were held on the Chinese side of the boundary point known as the Chushul-Moldo Border Personnel Meeting point, and are said to have lasted into the evening.

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Indian troops in vehicles

Indian troops driving towards Ladakh, September 2020. Both sides have stationed forces around the region (Image: Muzamil Mattoo / NurPhoto / Getty)

In previous talks, joint statements have indicated an eagerness to avoid military clashes and misunderstandings.

One such statement from the seventh round of talks last October read, per the Times of India: “Both sides agreed to earnestly implement the important understandings reached by the leaders of the two countries, not to turn differences into disputes, and jointly safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border areas.”

At the same time, it is understood that both sides have not yet been able to agree on who should step back from certain areas first.

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Indian soldier with a gun

An Indian border security soldier guards a point on the Srinagar-Leh national highway (Image: Faisal Khan / NurPhoto / Getty)

India military force graph

India military force graph (Image: EXPRESS)

Tensions also simmered in September after both sides accused one another of firing shots.

China said Indian troops had fired “provocative” warning shots at its patrolling soldiers.

India denied this and said Chinese soldiers had “fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate our own troops,” the BBC said at the time.

Indian soldier lying down with guns

In September both sides accused the other of firing shots (Image: Yawar Nazir / Getty)

Both countries agreed in 1996 not to use any guns or explosives at the disputed boundary, also referred to as the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Meanwhile, in the last few months, India has returned two Chinese soldiers who had crossed into India’s side of the LAC.

The most recent of the two separate incidents took place this month. China claimed its soldier had gone missing “due to darkness and complicated terrain”.

He was returned at the aforementioned border meeting point between the two sides.

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