Indian and Chinese military commanders held their first talks on Saturday to end the border stand-off in eastern Ladakh

Army Corps commanders from India and China on Saturday held extensive discussions to end the month-long stand-off in eastern Ladakh, with the communist country also conveying to New Delhi through diplomatic channels to oppose the “politicisation” of the Covid-19 pandemic by the US.

The meeting between senior military leaders was led by Lt Gen Harinder Singh, GOC of Leh-based 14 Corps from the Indian side, and Maj Gen Liu Lin, commander, South Xinjiang Military region, representing the China’s People’s Liberation Army.

Sources said the discussions continued for more than three hours, but there was no immediate statement about the outcome from either side.

After the meeting in Moldo, located opposite Chushul in eastern Ladakh, Lt Gen Singh returned to Leh and briefed Army Chief Gen M M Naravane and Northern Command Chief Lt Gen Y K Joshi.

The details are being deliberated upon within the government involving the Prime Minister’s Office, National Security Advisor, Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of External Affairs. 

Hours before the talk between military commanders, senior diplomats from China and India had a video conference interaction on the way forward.

Beijing wants New Delhi to oppose what it calls the “politicisation” of the Covid-19 pandemic by President Donald Trump’s administration in the United States.

The video conference set the framework for talks between commanders of both countries. 

After the meeting, Sun Weidong, China’s ambassador to India, tweeted: “They (senior diplomats of India and China) also agreed that #China & #India should deepen cooperation on fight against #COVID19 epidemic, support the #WHO, resolutely uphold and promote multilateralism & (and) safeguard common interests of developing countries.” 

The MEA, in a press release issued in New Delhi, stated: “The two sides also exchanged views on the challenge posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and cooperation in various multilateral forums.”

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, issued a separate press release in Beijing, stating that the two sides agreed to deepen cooperation to deal with the Covid-19 crisis and oppose “politicisation of the epidemic situation”.

India refrained from joining the US in blaming China for the pandemic. It also did not echo US President Donald Trump’s allegations against the World Health Organisation that it has been biased towards the Chinese and had not alerted the US and other nations well in time.