The fourth round of the Corps Commanders meeting between India and China that started around 11 am at Chushul on Tuesday lasted over 12 hours, with no details available till late evening.
While both Indian and Chinese troops have shown some pullback at the four friction points, including the north bank of Pangong Tso, further reduction in the number of troops and the distance between them were to be discussed by the Corps Commanders on Tuesday, along with the Chinese presence in Depsang Plains as well as de-escalation from the depth areas in the region.
Lt General Harinder Singh, the XIV Corps Commander, led the Indian delegation to meet Major General Liu Lin, the Commander of South Xinjiang Military region. While the first two meetings between them, on June 6 and June 22, had taken place on the Chinese side of the Border Personnel Meeting (BPM`) point at Moldo, the meetings on June 30 Tuesday took place on the Indian side of the BPM at Chushul. Top Army sources had said that the officers were to discuss modalities for further disengagement, which would include relocation of troops and mark the second phase of disengagement, in the four friction points — Patrolling Point 14 (PP14) in Galwan Valley, PP15 in Hot Springs area, PP17A in Gogra Post Sector, and Finger 4 on the north bank of Pangong Tso.
Troops from both sides have stepped back to avoid any direct confrontation, as part of the first phase of disengagement. Troops from neither side are allowed to patrol on these four points as diplomatic and military discussions between both the countries continue to resolve the 11-week-long standoff. While the troops have disengaged mutually at all these points, so that a repeat of the June 15 events does not take place when violent clashes at PP14 left casualties on both sides, including 20 Indian soldiers, India wants status quo ante at all locations.
Another major concern has been the massive military build-up by both sides, including deployment of additional divisions, artillery guns, air defence assets and more equipment, in the depth areas. Reduction of these additional deployments was also to be taken up by the two Corps Commanders on Tuesday as part of the de-escalation.
In Depsang Plains, which is close to the strategically important Daulat Beg Oldie base of India, near the Karakoram Pass in the north, Chinese troops have blocked access of Indian soldiers to their traditional patrolling limits. In Pangong Tso as well, while China has moved its troops towards Finger 5, from Finger 4, they continue to be considerably west of Finger 8, which is where India says the Line of Actual Control passes through. The distance between Finger 4 and Finger 8 is 8 km. However, the Chinese forces continue to maintain presence on the ridgeline at Finger 4, looking over the Indian positions on the west.
Indian troops have also moved back, towards Finger 3, as part of the mutual disengagement discussed between the Corps Commanders at their last meeting.
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