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NEW DELHI: India talked tough on Friday, making clear New Delhi’s resolve to stand up to Chinese aggression even as senior military commanders of the two countries sat down for their eighth round of talks in another attempt to preserve an uneasy truce and push forward with disengagement and de-escalation of an eye ball-to-eye ball military confrontation.

India will not accept any “shifting" of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, India’s chief of defence staff, General Bipin Rawat, said at the diamond jubilee celebrations of the New Delhi-based National Defence College.

He also warned that a “larger conflict" with China could not be ruled out if tensions along the common border triggered friction and confrontation between the two countries. China and Pakistan acting in collusion can lead to the danger of regional instability with the potential for escalation, he said.

“Our posturing is unambiguous. We will not accept any shifting of the LAC. In the overall security calculus, border confrontations, transgressions, unprovoked tactical military actions spiralling into a larger conflict, therefore, cannot be discounted," Rawat said.

Tensions between New Delhi and Beijing have been running high since May when India detected intrusions by Chinese troops into its territory. India quickly sent reinforcements to the border to match a Chinese deployment of tens of thousands of military personnel. Talks between military commanders resulted in a disengagement plan but a violent clash between the two sides on 15 June in Galwan valley of Ladakh left 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops dead and the bilateral relations in shreds.

The situation on the ground was still tense, Rawat said. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was facing “unanticipated consequences" of its “misadventure" in Ladakh because of the firm and strong response of Indian defence forces, he said.

The corps commander level talks between India and China began at 9.30am on the Indian side at Chushul and closed around 7pm. There was no word on the outcome at the time of going to press. This was the first round of talks in which the Indian delegation was led by Lt. Gen. P.G.K. Menon, who took over as the 14 Corps commander last month.

India was to firmly seek disengagement of troops across the entire stretch of eastern Ladakh at the talks, according to a person familiar with the developments. China has been pushing for a vacation of the commanding positions on the south bank of Pangong Tso in Ladakh taken by India in August, before it discusses other friction points, the person said.

“I don’t expect a breakthrough in these talks," said Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese Studies at the New Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University. Given that the temperatures in the region could plummet to many degrees below zero, there was a sense of urgency that the two sides come to an understanding, he said. Both sides were, however, prepared to hold on to their positions for the winter months, Kondapalli said referring to the extreme cold winter clothing that India had procured for its military personnel from the US and Russia.

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