LAC standoff | India, China hold fifth round of Corps Commander-level talks

Indian soldiers patrol the mountainous terrain in Leh on June 23, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AFP

India and China held the fifth round of Corps Commanders-level talks at Moldo on the Chinese side on Sunday to take forward the stalled process of disengagement on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The talks are still on.

Also read: India reviews progress of disengagement talks

The talks began around 11 a.m., a defence source said. The confirmation for the meeting came from the Chinese side late on Saturday evening.

As with earlier rounds, the talks were led by Leh-based 14 Corps commander Lt. Gen. Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang military commander Maj. Gen. Lin Liu.

The Corps Commanders of the two sides have held four rounds of talks so far on June 6, 22, 30 and July 14 to de-escalate from the build-up in Galwan Valley, Gogra-Hot Springs and the Finger area along the Pangong Tso (lake) in Ladakh sector along the LAC. However, there has been no update on the situation at the strategically important Depsang plains.

India has demanded that status quo be restored along the unsettled boundary line. China had massed troops since April-May along the LAC and occupied positions in India’s perception of the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. The talks on July 14 went on for 15 hours but failed to restart the disengagement process, despite a consensus for full disengagement and de-escalation.

On Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs said that the disengagement process of troops had not yet been completed. China has, however, maintained that the process is complete. China has been reluctant to discuss Pangong Tso, it has been learnt. “There is some resistance,” a second source said.

NSA-led panel meets

The high powered China Study Group, headed by National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval also met on Thursday and discussed the ongoing situation, a government official said.

Also read: Chinese troops shift 2 km from Galwan Valley clash site

The first phase of disengagement undertaken in early July remains incomplete with disengagement completed only at Galwan valley and Patrolling Point (PP) 15 in Gogra-Hot springs area. Only limited disengagement has been undertaken at PP 17A in Gogra-Hot Springs and it has barely begun at Pangong Tso.

Chinese troops have only moved back from the base of Finger 4, the mountain spur, to Finger 5 but remain to occupy the ridgelines of Finger 4 while India’s claim extends till Finger 8, while it has always held till Finger 4.

Sunday’s Corps Commanders meeting follows a third round, since the standoff began, of a virtual conference of the ‘Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India China Border Affairs’ on July 24.

With a return to status quo of pre-May positions nowhere in sight, the Army has been preparing for extended deployment and stocking up for the harsh winter in the high altitude region for the large number of troops deployed along the LAC.

Chushul BPM cancelled

With ongoing tensions, the ceremonial Border Personnel Meeting (BPM), usually held at Chushul to mark the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Day on August 1, did not take place.

Ceremonial BPM was toned down and happened only in Eastern Command, the second source stated.

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Printable version | Apr 23, 2021 8:27:27 PM |

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