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India, China begin military talks to end Ladakh standoff

An Army convoy carrying military material on its way to Ladakh amid border tension with China, on September 20, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

India cannot meet China half way in the disengagement process as India has to maintain troops for protection of territory, an official source said as the sixth round of Corps Commander-level talks on Monday morning aimed at ending the five month long standoff along the disputed boundary in Ladakh. The talks were still ongoing at the time of going to print.

MEA presence

The talks began around 9 a.m. on the Chinese side at Moldo, a defence source said.

The Indian side is led by Lt. Gen. Harinder Singh, 14 Corps Commander who was accompanied by Lt. Gen. P.G.K. Menon, set to take over as the 14 Corps Commander in October. The Chinese side is led by Maj. Gen. Lin Liu, South Xinjiang military commander.

For the first time, Naveen Srivastava, Joint Secretary handling East Asia division in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), is part of the Indian delegation.

Mr. Srivastava has been part of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) talks between India-China border affairs and holding talks with the Chinese side during the ongoing standoff.

It cannot be mutual disengagement as China has moved inside Indian side at several locations, a second official explained on India’s stand of disengagement. China must also strictly follow the five-point consensus decided by the two foreign ministers in Moscow on September 10, the first official stated.

The Indian delegation also includes two Major Generals, four Brigadiers and Inspector General Deepam Seth from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the official said.

Time-bound withdrawal

According to official sources, India’s agenda at the talks is that China must withdraw from all friction points with a timeline on de-induction of mechanised and motorised divisions. Also, withdrawal of Chinese forces from Depsang to Pangong Tso and free and unhindered access to Indian forces to all patrol points.

India’s demand is also for strict adherence to laid down protocols on troop strength on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). “Not just disengagement but also de-induction,” the official added.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Parliament last week that China has mobilised a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC as well as in the depth areas in violation of the 1993 and 1996 border agreements and there are several friction areas in Eastern Ladakh including Gogra, Kongka La and north and south banks of the Pangong Tso.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 5:34:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-china-begin-military-talks-to-end-ladakh-standoff/article32658080.ece

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