“We shall continue all efforts to restore the status quo ante along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China,” said Northern Command chief Lt. Gen. Y.K. Joshi on Saturday.
However, he remained non-committal on the timeline for the resolution of the standoff in eastern Ladakh, which has been ongoing for 12 weeks.
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During the talks for disengagement, India has consistently called for the restoration of the status quo ante at the LAC or the pullback of Chinese troops to pre-May positions.
“There are certain commitments required from the two sides which is essential for the process to move ahead and deliver the outcomes that are desirable. There are certain factors though, such as territorial integrity of the country, that are not negotiable at all. While we are investing sincerely in this ongoing endeavour to bring about peace along the border, we also remain prepared at all times for any eventuality,” Lt. Gen. Joshi said on the current situation in an interview to News18.
The negotiations and process of disengagement and the commitment of both sides to adhere to the laid down methodology would dictate the timelines of the standoff, he stated.
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A decorated soldier of the 1999 Kargil conflict, Lt. Gen. Joshi said the challenges during the Kargil conflict and the present situation are in a totally different domain. “In the given circumstances, the LAC in Ladakh is a challenge today. We as an organisation concluded that situation in 1999 to our satisfaction then and so would be in this case too,” he said.
On the ongoing disengagement process, the first phase of which has only been partially completed so far, Lt. Gen. Joshi said the same is happening on the ground and also being verified by the commanders on the ground to ensure its veracity and correctness.
“It is a complex and integrated process which needs diligent execution,” he said, adding once complete disengagement is achieved, de-escalation would take place which would be guided by the principle of mutual and equal security.
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During the first phase of disengagement, Chinese troops pulled back from standoff areas at Galwan and Patrolling Point 15 but only partially from PP 17A. At Pangong Tso, where Chinese troops moved in about 8 km from Finger 8 to Finger 4 claimed by India, they only moved back from the base of Finger 4 to Finger 5 but continue to remain on the ridgelines of Finger 4 overlooking Indian positions.
The fourth round of Corps Commander talks on July 14 discussed this and the second phase of disengagement but there has been no progress on the ground since then.
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On Friday, the third round of talks under the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) since the beginning of the standoff were held, where both sides agreed to hold another round of senior military talks to take forward the disengagement process.