Indian and Chinese Corps Commanders met for the seventh time on Monday to discuss the ongoing military standoff in eastern Ladakh, which had begun in early May.
The meeting started at noon and took place on the Indian side of Chushul-Moldo Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) point – it lasted late into the evening. Sources in the defence establishment suggested that no major breakthrough was expected.
It was the last meeting of XIV Corps Commander Lt General Harinder Singh, as he would hand over the command to Lt General P G K Menon on October 14. Lt General Menon was part of Monday’s meeting, as well as the sixth round of talks on September 21.
The Chinese delegation was led by Major General Liu Lin, Commander of the South Xinjiang Military District.
The Indian delegation also included Naveen Srivastava, joint secretary, MEA (handling East Asia), who has been representing India in the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC). He was also part of the last meeting.
For the first time, the Chinese side also had a representative from the country’s Foreign Ministry.
Sources in the government said there was another senior Army official, representing the headquarters from the operations branch as part of the delegation. Similarly, the sources said, the Chinese delegation also included an official representing their Ministry of National Defence.
In the last meeting both sides had agreed that neither will take steps that can lead to further escalation.
India has been demanding status quo ante, for troops from both sides to go back to their positions as of April-end. In the last meeting, China had insisted that Indian troops should step back from the positions occupied by them in August-end in Chushul sub-sector, allowing India to dominate the region, as the positions overlook not only the Spanggur Gap, but also China’s Moldo Garrison.
India had insisted that the entire eastern Ladakh region be discussed, where both sides have around 50,000 troops each along with additional artillery, tanks and air defence assets.
With no solution to the stalemate, even as they agreed to not send additional troops, both sides have also prepared for deployment of additional troops through the harsh winters. While they may need to pull back some troops from their positions, especially on the heights, sources said India will only reduce troop strength only if China does.
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