The 15th round of Corps Commander talks between India and China began on the Indian side of the Chushul Moldo Meeting Point in eastern Ladakh on Friday with the immediate focus on working out a disengagement agreement at Patrolling Point 15 in the Gogra-Hot Springs area as part of the overall disengagement and de-escalation process.
The talks began around 10 a.m., a defence source confirmed.
Defence sources expressed optimism about the outcome of the talks, given that the recent statements by both sides to find a mutually acceptable solution have been “encouraging and positive”.
Since the stand-off began in May 2020, the two sides have so far held 14 rounds of talks with disengagement on both sides of Pangong Tso (lake) in February 2021, and from Patrolling Point 17 in the Gogra area in August, in addition to Galwan in 2020 after the violent clash. The two sides have held talks at the political and diplomatic levels too.
The other areas yet to be resolved are PP15, Demchok and Depsang.
Over 50,000 troops and heavy equipment continue to be deployed on both sides close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) for the second winter in the super high-altitude areas.
India has been insisting on comprehensive disengagement and de-escalation of the situation in eastern Ladakh, while China has been reluctant to discuss Depsang and Demchok, maintaining that they are not a part of the current stand-off, officials had stated. Due to this, the 13th round of talks ended acrimoniously, with both sides issuing strong statements and making accusations.
China has also undertaken massive construction of infrastructure, habitat and support structures to maintain the troops close to the LAC, altering the ground status.
Given this, Army Chief Gen. Naravane had stated that any deinduction will have to follow a few laid-out steps, which first comprises disengagement in the friction areas along the LAC, confidence building, followed by de-escalation which is moving back to the depth areas and de-induction can take place “only after that”, which is when troops would move back to their permanent locations. “Whatever we decide to do, will be based on the principle of mutual and equal security. Till we reach there, we will have to be prepared to stay there for as long as required.”