The seventh round of corps commanders talks to discuss disengagement and eventual de-escalation of the over five-month-long military standoff in eastern Ladakh between India and China will take place on Monday morning.
This will be the last meeting in which XIV Corps Commander Lt General Harinder Singh will lead the Indian delegation before he hands over the command of the corps to Lt General P G K Menon, who will take over later in the week.
Singh, who will complete his one-year tenure as the corps commander on October 14, will move to head the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun.
The meeting on Monday will take place on the Indian side of the Chushul-Moldo Border Personnel Meeting Point.
Monday’s talks will be the first in which both sides will have senior military commanders and representatives of foreign ministries. While the Indian delegation included a diplomat during the last meeting on September 21, the Chinese delegation too will include a Foreign Ministry official Monday.
Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary for East Asia, Naveen Srivastava, who has been representing India in the diplomatic discussions, was part of the senior military commander talks the last time, which had also included Menon, who was posted in the Army headquarters in Delhi.
Senior defence establishment sources said the Army will have another senior official representing the headquarters Monday.
A top Army source said “there is no expected breakthrough of a peace deal”.
The Army has prepared for winter deployment of additional troops. Both sides have around 50,000 soldiers each, along with air defence assets, artillery and tanks in the region. As the winter sets in, there might be a reduction in some troops from the heights, but that will depend on whether China pulls some troops back.
This will be the seventh time the corps commanders from both sides will meet since the standoff began in early May. Major General Liu Lin, Commander of the South Xinjiang Military Region has represented China in all these meetings.
During the last talks, sources had said that while India had asked for the entire eastern Ladakh region to be discussed, China had insisted that Indian troops move back from their new positions in the Chushul sub-sector. Sources mentioned that there was “no commonality between our proposals” in the last meeting.
After some initial disengagement in early July, the last three rounds of the senior commanders’ meetings have not yielded any success.
After the last meeting, the two sides had issued a joint statement in which both had agreed to not send any more troops to the frontline. The joint statement had mentioned that both sides had agreed “to earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthen communication on the ground, avoid misunderstandings and misjudgments, stop sending more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground, and avoid taking any actions that may complicate the situation”.
However, there has not been any change in the ground situation since then. At several positions in the Chushul sub-sector, and on the north bank of Pangong Tso, troops from both sides continue to be separated by just a few hundred metres.
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