India and China held a second flag meeting today to discuss a stand-off over nearly a dozen Chinese soldiers who have set up a remote camp some 10 km (6 miles) inside territory claimed by India in Ladakh. Details of what transpired at the meeting are awaited.
Indian government officials have confirmed that on the night of April 15, two helicopters gave support to the Chinese as they set up temporary posts on the Indian side of the disputed border.
China has denied that its troops have crossed into Indian territory. "Our troops are patrolling on the Chinese side of the actual line of control and have never trespassed the line," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying yesterday.
The de facto border separating China and India is known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC). While it has never been formally demarcated, the countries signed two accords to maintain peace in frontier areas in 1993 and 1996.
Military commanders at the Brigadier level from the two sides had met last week, but failed to break the deadlock.
Till yesterday, China had not agreed to India's request for a second flag meeting, citing the non-availability of their senior officers, sources said.
Yesterday, Defence Minister AK Antony said, "India will take every step to protect its interests." The Indian army has set up its own temporary camp just 500 meters (1600 feet) from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers after the incident on April 15
Though small incursions across the Line of Actual Control are common, it is rare for either country to set up camp so deep.
The assessment in the Indian government is that the Chinese will eventually withdraw but could use this "occupation" to lay claims to the area at a later stage of border negotiations.
The latest incident took place at Daulat Beg Oldie, where India established a landing strip during the 1962 war. At 5,100 meters (16,700 feet), the strip is one of the world's highest. It was reopened in 2008.