The XIV Corps Commander Lt General P G K Menon on Friday met his Chinese counterpart Major General Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang Military Region, for the eighth round of discussions between military commanders over the standoff in eastern Ladakh that has entered its seventh month now.
The meeting at the Indian side of the Chushul-Moldo Border Personnel Meeting point started around 9.30 am and ended around 7 pm. There was no official communication about its outcome.
Like the last two meetings, on September 21 and October 12, Friday’s meeting was also attended by diplomats.
Naveen Srivastava, joint secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs looking after East Asia, who has been leading the diplomatic talks in the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, was part of the Indian delegation.
The first seven meetings were led by Lt General Harinder Singh, whose tenure as XIV Corps Commander ended on October 14, when Menon took over. Menon was part of the sixth and the seventh rounds of discussions.
Going into the meeting, Army sources had suggested that no major breakthrough was expected.
But the meeting gains significance as it was probably the last round of discussions before the winter sets in. Both sides are prepared for an extended deployment of the additional troops brought into the region.
There was some hope of possible thinning of troops from some friction points, as there had been some “feelers” from the Chinese side for partial disengagement.
After the last Corps Commander talks on October 12, the two sides had said in a joint statement that they had a “sincere, in-depth and constructive exchange of views on disengagement” and the both sides had “agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible”.
Army sources said India continues to demand status quo ante — meaning troops from both sides to go back to their April-end positions.
In the last two rounds of talks, China insisted that India vacate the heights it has occupied in the Chushul sub-sector, and on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso. But India wants a resolution for the entire region.
In August end, Indian troops had outwitted Chinese soldiers to occupy heights on Magar Hill, Gurung Hill, Rezang La and Rechin La, which has given India a dominant position in the region.
Indian troops now not only look over China’s Moldo Garrison, but can also dominate the Spanggur Gap, which can be used to launch an offensive, as China had done in 1962.
India also strengthened its positions on the north bank of Pangong Tso by occupying higher peaks than where Chinese troops have positioned themselves on the ridge connecting Finger 3 and Finger 4.
Modi, Xi to share platform on Nov 10
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will share a virtual platform with Chinese President Xi Jinping on November 10.
This will be the first time since the border stand-off at Ladakh began this May that Modi and Xi will encounter each.
“The Prime Minister will lead the Indian delegation to the 20th Summit of the SCO Council of Heads of State, which will be held in the virtual format on 10 November … This is the third meeting where we will be participating as full members,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said Friday at a media briefing.
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