India, China hold talks again to scale down tensions in border area2 min read . Updated: 03 Aug 2020, 07:44 AM IST
The focus of talks was on complete disengagement of Chinese troops from the banks of the Pangong Tso lake
NEW DELHI : India will focus on the complete disengagement of Chinese troops from the banks of the Pangong Tso lake and other friction points in Ladakh during a fresh round of military talks on Sunday to scale down tensions along their Line of Actual Control (LAC), a person familiar with the matter said.
Senior commanders of the Indian and Chinese armies met at Moldo on Sunday, on the Chinese side of the LAC, he added. The Indian delegation was led by lieutenant general Harinder Singh, commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, while the Chinese side was headed by major general Liu Lin, commander of the People’s Liberation Army’s South Xinjiang military region.
A second person familiar with the matter said the focus of the Singh-Liu meet would be on finalizing a framework for a “time-bound and verifiable" disengagement process from all the friction points like Pangong Tso and the Depsang plains. The two commanders would also talk about pulling back large numbers of troops and weapons from rear bases along the LAC, the person added.
This was the fifth round of talks between the countries at the military level to defuse tensions following the massive troop buildup and multiple intrusions into Indian territory by the Chinese side along the LAC in early May, besides a violent clash on 15 June in the Galwan Valley that resulted in the first casualties along the border in 45 years. While the Indian army said 20 Indian soldiers, including their commanding officer, were killed, China has not yet made known the casualties on its side.
Sunday’s talks also come against the backdrop of news reports that China had moved another battalion to an area adjacent to Lipulekh, which falls between India, Nepal and China. Lipulekh recently was shown as part of Nepal in a new map of the Himalayan country, raising tensions between New Delhi and Kathmandu.
Previous rounds of senior military level talks between India and China took place on 6, 22 and 30 June, and 14 July.
Last week, the Indian foreign ministry had said that disengagement of troops in eastern Ladakh was not yet complete, though some progress had been made, rejecting claims by China that front line forces of the two countries had “completed" disengagement in most locations along the border.
Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, said with the statements from China that they have not crossed the LAC with their present positions on the ground, “the Chinese are presenting us with a fait accompli". “This is not acceptable to us. We have said that they have to move back to positions they held in April."
“In the current circumstances, the Chinese are looking for a solution without pulling out," he added.
Chinese troops are still present in the Depsang Plains region, Gogra or Patrolling Point 17A and the Fingers region along the Pangong Lake. Last month, India and China had started a mutual disengagement by creating a buffer zone along the LAC.
“India agreed to the buffer zones only to ensure that tensions don’t get out of hand again," Kondapalli said, adding that India would insist the Chinese return to pre-May positions.