China on Tuesday said border troops had “disengaged in most localities” along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), but defence sources said disengagement had only been “partial” at one of the locations that Beijing appeared to be referring to.
China also acknowledged for the first time that issues were yet to be resolved at Pangong Lake, which is likely to be taken up at the fifth round of Corps Commander-level talks set for later this week.
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Disengagement has been completed from stand-off sites at Patrolling Point (PP) 14 at Galwan Valley and PP 15 in the Gogra-Hot Springs area . It is, however, only partially completed at PP17A, another patrolling point in the Gogra-Hot Springs area, and also incomplete at Pangong Lake, defence sources said, adding that there was no change in the ground situation with the first phase of disengagement remaining incomplete.
These issues, in addition to further disengagement, would be taken up during the talks.
“The talks will most likely be in the second half of this week,” a defence source said. “Firm dates are yet to be confirmed.”
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On Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry was asked by Chinese media to confirm whether “Chinese and Indian troops have completed disengagement at three localities, namely, Galwan Valley , Hot Springs and Kongka Pass” and if “the only area where disengagement is left to be implemented is along the Pangong Lake.” Kongka Pass is east of Gogra-Hot Springs.
This was the first time that the Chinese media had specifically referred to issues in the Gogra-Hot Springs and Pangong Lake areas along the LAC. Previously, they had only spoken of differences in the Galwan Valley, where a clash on June 15 that claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers, marked the worst violence on the border since 1967.
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China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin responded that “as border troops have disengaged in most localities, the situation on the ground is de-escalating and the temperature is coming down”.
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”Recently China and India have held frequent communication via diplomatic and military channels, with four rounds of commander-level talks and three meetings under the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on China-India Border Affairs,” Mr. Wang said. “Currently the two sides are actively preparing for the fifth round of commander-level talks to resolve outstanding issues on the ground. We hope the Indian side will work towards the same goal with China, implement the two sides' consensus and jointly uphold peace and tranquility along the border.”