NEW DELHI :
Talks between senior military commanders of India and China were underway on Tuesday to discuss a second, more complex phase of disengagement and de-escalation along their border. Tensions have spiked along the border following a clash that killed soldiers of both sides last month, and with the two countries amassing of tens of thousands of troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The meeting between the Indian Army’s 14 Corps commander, Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, and his Chinese counterpart Major General Lin Liu, commander of the South Xinjiang Military District, began a little past 11.30am, the scheduled time to begin the discussions, a person in the know of the matter said.
The two officers had met earlier on 6 June, 22 June and 30 June. The talks this time, like on 30 June, were taking place at Chushul on the Indian side of the LAC.
Tuesday’s talks are expected to cover the most complex and challenging issues as the two commanders are to negotiate a pullback of troops from the Pangong Tso Lake region as well as the Depsang Plains, according to analysts.
The two commanders were also expected to focus on a pullback of troops and equipment such as air defence radars, tanks, artillery units and air support from areas immediately adjacent to the LAC. China had mobilized troops and heavy weaponry at the LAC in late April-early May. India had quickly sent troops to match the Chinese deployment.
Last week, troops of both countries pulled back from three friction points, patrolling point (PP) 14, 15 and 17A, creating a buffer zone of 3-4km. This was done to ensure that troops separated at some points along the LAC by only 600 metres, or less, do not engage with each other.
The move came after a violent clash between the two sides on 15 June that led to the death of 20 Indian Army personnel and an unknown number of Chinese troops. The casualties were the first in 45 years. Ties between the two countries have deteriorated rapidly because of tensions.