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India, China hold new talks after deadly border flare-up

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An Indian Army convoy moves along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangeer in Kashmir's Ganderbal district June 18, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

Diplomats from India and China hold another round of talks over rising tensions at their contested border.

Diplomats from both sides were holding talks on Friday through a virtual meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, a government source in New Delhi said.

Last month, 20 Indian soldiers were killed during a skirmish in the Galwan Valley, a precipitous and rocky border area that lies between China’s Tibet and India’s Ladakh regions. There were no confirmed reports of Chinese casualties. Each side blamed the other for the incident.

That was the first such deadly clash at the disputed border in the western Himalayas since 1967.

India accused Beijing of having “pre-meditated and planned” the fighting, but China said Indian troops had violated a military agreement, and attacked its troops in the Galwan valley in Ladakh.

The governments of the two nuclear armed powers are now seeking to reach an agreement on ways to pull back troops from across the disputed border.

The two sides have held several rounds of talks since then and reduced the numbers of troops in the valley, while still pouring reinforcements into the region.

If Beijing and New Delhi agree to an incremental withdrawal from frontline positions, the next step would be for the pullout of all the additional forces and military equipment that had been deployed in the region after the recent clash.

Citing a US official, Reuters reported that the US had seen a build-up of forces on the border, estimating that each side had over 10,000 troops in the region.

“We’re still seeing actually troop reinforcements and weapon reinforcements moving towards the border,” the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The two Asian powerhouses have been engaged in a protracted dispute over the Line of Actual Control frontier that divides their long joint border. They have also fought a brief war back in 1962.

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