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India-China talks on vexed LAC issue on track: Eastern Army Commander

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KOLKATA (PTI): Talks to resolve the "vexed" Line of Actual Control (LAC) issue with China are on track, with differences getting narrowed down after every round of discussion, Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen M M Naravane said here on Friday.

Putting a timeframe to resolve the issue, however, would be difficult at this point, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command, said.

"With every round of talks on the vexed LAC issue, the differences keep getting narrowed down. Hopefully at some point, all the interests will converge and we will be able to formally sign an agreement," he said.

Asked at what stage the talks have reached, Naravane, who has been appointed the next vice-chief of the Indian Army, said, "We are in the 23rd or 24th round of talks, putting a timeframe to it is difficult. The sooner the (LAC) issue is resolved, the sooner the two large Asian neighbours can get past these obstacles to move on the path of progress."

Speaking to news persons after the wreath-laying ceremony on the 20th anniversary of the Kargil war victory against Pakistan, he said "As with our western neighbour, with our northern neighbour, too, if we have peace, the population on both sides will be able to look forward to a brighter future."

The LAC with China traverses the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

The Indian Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) were involved in a 73-day standoff at Doklam in 2017 in the Sikkim sector over construction of a road by the PLA, overlooking the narrow 'Chicken's Neck' corridor connecting the north-eastern states with the rest of the country in an area, which is also claimed by Bhutan.

The standoff, which had strained relations between the two countries, was finally resolved after the PLA stopped the road construction, following which India withdrew its troops.

Significantly, the Chinese military has said that it is striving to promote security and stability along the India-China border and has created favourable conditions to resolve the Doklam standoff.

A white paper titled 'China's National Defence in the New Era', released by the Chinese Defence Ministry on Wednesday in Beijing, said that its military "strives to promote stability and security along the border with India, and have taken effective measures to create favourable conditions for the peaceful resolution of the Donglang (Doklam) standoff."

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