Stepping up efforts to de-escalate the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, India and China will start a fresh round of military talks on June 6, bringing senior commanders to the table.
Army sources indicated this even as Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said he had been informed about the talks, and that the Chinese presence along the LAC was in “achhi khasi sankhya” (sizeable numbers).
The next meeting, sources said, will be between Lt General-level officers from both sides, with the Indian delegation being led by the Corps Commander of the Leh-based XIV Corps.
Signalling each other
By bringing Generals to the table, India and China are indicating their willingness to agree to disengage. The situation in Ladakh is different from Doklam, and a lot depends on how Generals on the ground and diplomats working the lines with Beijing negotiate an agreement to de-escalate.
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Rajnath Singh told News18 TV: “In today’s situation, military talks are going on, and possibly on June 6, talks are going to happen at the level of senior military officers. I spoke to the (Army) chief and others today, and they have informed me.”
On the situation in Ladakh, Singh said the problem stems from the different LAC claims of the two sides.
“The recent incident, it is true, the Chinese on the border… their claim is up to a particular point and India’s claim is up to a particular point. And due to this, there has been disagreement. And the Chinese have come in sizeable numbers (achhi khasi sankhya). But whatever needs to be done, India has also done,” he said.
Singh said India and China “have a mechanism to solve the problem and we are working as per that mechanism… What can be better if it can be resolved through talks… Be assured.”
Sources told The Indian Express that a meeting between Major General-level officers from both armies had taken place Tuesday, where the Indian side was represented by the GOC of Leh-based 3 Mountain Division.
The next meeting on Saturday will be held between Lt General-level officers from both sides, with the Indian delegation being led by the Leh Corps Commander.
The purpose of these meetings, sources said, is to find a way to amicably end all ongoing military activity in the contested portions of the LAC, which have witnessed a heavy military build-up from both countries in the past few weeks.
Describing the areas which fall between the Chinese and Indian “perceptions” of the LAC as “grey areas,” sources said the agenda for discussion in the meetings of military commanders is “to formulate a mutually-agreed way to ensure that both sides do not undertake any military activity there”.
The detailed contours of a possible solution will be discussed in the next meeting, and sources said they “are hopeful”.
The two major areas where the Indian and Chinese soldiers are deployed in strength on the LAC in eastern Ladakh are in Pangong Tso and the Galwan Nala.
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