Updated: July 31, 2021 7:39:05 am
Indian and Chinese Corps Commanders will meet on Saturday for the 12th round of talks on a possible resolution of the 14-month military standoff in eastern Ladakh, more than three months after they last met to discuss the issue.
The Indian delegation for the talks, which will be held on the Chinese side of Chushul-Moldo Border Personnel Meeting point, will be led by Lt Gen P G K Menon, commander of XIV Corps, which is responsible for the LAC with China in eastern Ladakh. The delegation will also include Naveen Srivastava, Additional Secretary handling East Asia in the Ministry of External Affairs, who represents India in diplomatic discussions at the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination for border affairs.
Sources said a breakthrough is expected for disengagement at Gogra and Hot Springs friction points, where PLA troops have been stationed on the Indian side of the LAC since last year.
While India has been demanding that the two sides first disengage from the friction points, China has been asking for de-escalation in the region first. De-escalation would mean that both sides send back additional troops that were brought in last year, nearly 50,000 on each side, along with armoured and air defence assets, to their traditional bases.
The government has identified that since the standoff began in May 2020, there have been multiple friction points, which include Patrolling Point (PP) 14 in Galwan Valley, PP 15 and PP 17A in Shyok Salu area, Finger 4 on the north bank of Pangong Tso, and Rezang La and Rechin La in Chushul sub-sector.
Disengagement from Galwan took place in June last year after clashes between both sides left 20 Indian soldiers, including a Colonel dead. China admitted, belatedly, that it lost four troops. After that India managed to capture previously unoccupied peaks of Kailash Range on the south bank and in the Fingers area on the north bank of Pangong Tso. Warning shots were fired by both sides in this tussle, a first in decades.
In February this year, both sides agreed to pull back the troops and tanks from these heights after an unprecedented winter deployment. The Corps Commanders had met within two days after disengagement was completed from the north and south banks of Pangong Tso, including Rezang La and Rechin La, to discuss the other friction points, and the issue of Depsang Plains, where China has been blocking Indian troops from accessing its traditional patrolling limits to PP 10, PP 11, PP 11A, PP 12 and PP 13.
But there was no breakthrough in talks either in the 10th round of discussions on February 20 or during the 11th round on April 9.
In fact, in the last round, the two sides could not agree to even come up with a joint statement, unlike for the previous few rounds of discussions.
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