Border standoff: India, China hold 7th round of high-level military talks


Team Udayavani, Oct 12, 2020, 2:47 PM IST

New Delhi: India and China on Monday held the seventh round of high-level military talks with a sole agenda of finalising a roadmap for disengagement of troops from all the friction points in eastern Ladakh.

As the border standoff entered the sixth month, an early resolution to the row appears dim.

The talks at the Corps commander level began at around 12 noon in Chushul on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, official sources said.

The Indian delegation is led by Lt Gen Harinder Singh, the commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, and includes Naveen Srivastava, Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA).

Close to 100,000 Indian and Chinese troops are deployed in eastern Ladakh as both sides are holding their ground and also showing readiness for a long-haul even as diplomatic and military talks to find an amicable solution continue.

The talks in Chushul are underway, the sources said.

Ahead of the talks, the sources said India will press for an early and complete disengagement of troops by China from all the friction points besides demanding restoration of immediate restoration of status quo ante in all areas of eastern Ladakh prior to April. The standoff began on May 5.

The agenda for the talks is to firm up a roadmap for disengagement of troops from all the friction points in eastern Ladakh, the sources said.

The China Study Group (CSG) comprising Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and three service chiefs on Friday finalised India’s strategy for the military talks. The CSG is India’s key policy-making body on China.

The sources said India will strongly oppose any demand by China for withdrawal of Indian troops from several strategic heights on the southern bank of the Pangong lake to kick-start the disengagement process.

During the sixth round of Corps commander talks on September 21, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army(PLA) insisted on withdrawal of troops by the Indian Army from several strategic heights in Mukhpari, Rezang La and Magar hill areas around the southern bank of Pangong lake.

Indian troops had occupied the strategic heights after the PLA soldiers attempted to intimidate them in the southern bank of Pangong lake on the intervening night of August 29 and 30.

India has been maintaining that the disengagement process has to start simultaneously at all the friction points.

At the talks, the two sides are expected to further explore steps to maintain stability on the ground and avoid any action that may trigger fresh tension in the region where troops from both sides will be facing difficult conditions in the next four months due to harsh winter, the sources said.

Following the sixth round of military talks, the two sides announced a slew of decisions including not to send more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground and avoid taking any actions that may further complicate matters.

The military talks were held with a specific agenda of exploring ways to implement a five-point agreement reached between Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at a meeting in Moscow on September 10 on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) conclave.

The pact included measures like quick disengagement of troops, avoiding action that could escalate tensions, adherence to all agreements and protocols on border management and steps to restore peace along the LAC.

Days after the military talks, the two sides held diplomatic parleys under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs, but no concrete outcome emerged from the negotiations on September 30.

 

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