India and China held the 7th round of Corps Commander talks at Chushul on Monday in an effort to work out a schedule for disengagement and de-escalation along the disputed border in Eastern Ladakh. The talks were still on at the time of going to print. These are the first senior military-level talks following Beijing’s comments that it has “not recognised” the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh.
The talks began at 12 noon at Chushul on the Indian side, a defence source said. This is the last round of talks headed by Lt. Gen. Harinder Singh as the 14 Corps Commander as he moves out on another posting. He is soon to be replaced by Lt. Gen. PGK Menon, who has been part of the Indian delegation during the earlier round of talks as well. A representative from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is also present in the Indian side.
After the 6th round of talks on September 21 , both sides, for the first time, issued a joint statement in which they agreed to “stop sending more troops to the front line” and “refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground.”
However, on September 29, the Chinese foreign ministry said it “did not recognise” the UT of Ladakh and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was “clear” and “that it is the LAC of November 7, 1959”. The MEA responded sharply to this saying, “India has never accepted the so-called unilaterally defined 1959 LAC.”
A day after the sharp exchange of words, the two sides held another meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC).
In the last round of talks, China insisted that disengagement on the south bank of Panging Tso (lake) be discussed first, while India insisted on complete disengagement and de-escalation along Eastern Ladakh.
While troops continue to be deployed in several locations on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso, the situation on the ground has been calm since the five- point consensus decided between the two foreign ministers in Moscow on September 10.