The Indian Army and the Chinese PLA commanders are yet to hold the 16th round of negotiations

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi may meet in Indonesia this week to explore ways to end the stalemate over negotiations to end the stand-off between the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in eastern Ladakh.

Jaishankar and Wang will attend the meeting of the G20 Foreign Ministers in Bali on July 7 and 8. The meeting is being hosted by Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. It will set the stage for the G20 summit, which President Joko Widodo will host later this year.

India and China are in touch to explore the possibility of scheduling a bilateral meeting between Jaishankar and Wang on the sideline of the G20 meet in Bali. If the meeting is scheduled, the External Affairs Minister is expected to convey to the Chinese Foreign Minister that the situation along the disputed boundary between India and China would continue to be reflected in the relations between the two nations and the stand-off must be fully resolved at the earliest, a source said.

Wang recently had a meeting with India’s new ambassador to China, Pradeep Rawat, in Beijing and stressed that the common interests between the two neighbouring nations far outweigh the differences.

India and China should put the boundary dispute in a “proper position in bilateral relations and seek solutions through dialogue and consultation” he told Rawat, reiterating the position of President Xi Jinping’s government that the two neighbouring nations should bring back ties on track without waiting for resolution of the stand-off along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.

Wang’s proposal was rejected by Rawat, who emphasised the criticality of maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas for realizing the full potential of India-China relations and its positive implications for the world, particularly Asia.

Jaishankar himself had rejected Wang’s proposal when the Chinese Foreign Minister visited New Delhi on March 25.

The stand-off started in April-May 2020 with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) amassing a large number of troops along the LAC between the two nations prompting counter-deployment by the Indian Army to resist aggressive moves by the neighbouring country’s soldiers across the disputed boundary. It reached a flashpoint on June 15, 2020, when the Indian Army lost 20 of its soldiers in a violent face-off with the Chinese PLA in Galwan Valley. The PLA much later admitted that it had also lost four of its soldiers in the clash.

The negotiations between the two sides had resulted in mutual withdrawal of troops by both sides from some of the face-off points along the LAC – from the Galwan Valley in June 2020, from both banks of Pangong Tso in February 2021 and from Gogra Post in August 2021.

The 15th round of negotiations between the military commanders of the two nations on March 11, however, failed to yield the much-expected deal for mutual withdrawal of troops from Hot Springs or Patrol Point 15 in eastern Ladakh. The diplomats of the two nations had a video conference on May 31 last, but could not make much headway, except agreeing to hold the 16th round of negotiations between the military commanders at an early date.

The impasse, however, still continues and the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA commanders are yet to hold the 16th round of negotiations.