The next phase of de-escalation is expected to focus on the pull back of troops from the banks of Pangong Tso as well as in-depth areas where the two sides have back-up troops, arms and support
NEW DELHI: The pull back of troops from three contentious areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is almost complete, and India and China are scheduled to hold a round of talks each at military and diplomatic level to discuss the next phase of de-escalation and disengagement.
A meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs between India and China is expected on Friday, a person familiar with the matter said. At the military level, another round of talks between senior commanders is expected to take place next week to chalk out the next phase of the disengagement process.
At present, even though troops have pulled back a bit, tensions remain as there has been no change in the number or positions of long-range artillery guns, for example, located some 5 kilometres from the LAC, say people familiar with the developments.
“The initial disengagement has been completed at Galwan, Gogra and Hot Springs areas. Thinning out (reduction of troops) currently is in progress at the Pangong Tso lake area. We will wait and see how that proceeds," said one of the people familiar with the matter.
Tensions between India and China, running high since May, came to a head in June with a violent clash among troops from both sides which claimed lives of 20 Indian army personnel and also left dead unknown number of soldiers on the other side.
This was the first time in 45 years that the two neighbours engaged in hostilities at the border that had been largely peaceful thanks to pacts signed in 1993, 1996,2005, 2012 and 2013. Both sides have amassed tens of thousands of troops supported by tanks, artillery and fighter jets along the border.
The WMCC has met at least twice before to consider ways to stabilize the border since the start of the crisis. Senior commanders of the two sides have met thrice in June and it is the agreement worked out in the last meeting on 30 June that is being implemented. Under the terms of this, Indian and Chinese troops who were standing head-to-head at three places known as PP (Patrolling Points) 14,15 and 17A are moving back by 1.5-2 kilometres each, creating a buffer zone mainly to ensure there are no clashes between the two sides. The buffer zones have already been created at PP 14 and 15 and is to be completed by end of Thursday at PP 17A.
Given the complete breakdown of trust between the two sides, India is keeping a close watch on the "rearward movement of troops and vehicles and the dismantling of tents and other structures" through drones and satellite imagery besides physical verification, another person familiar with the matter said.
The next phase of de-escalation – to be discussed by the senior commanders of India and China -- is expected to focus on the pull back of troops from the banks of Pangong Tso as well as in-depth areas where the two sides have back-up troops, arms and support, the second person cited above said.
At present, even though troops have pulled back a bit, there has been no change in the number of long-range artillery guns, for example, located some 5 kilometres from the LAC.
The pull back from Pangong Tso as well the return of Chinese troops to its locations prior to the forward deployment along the LAC has been India’s main demand.
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