August 23, 2020 1:47:00 am
Continuing with its attempts to restore the status quo ante at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh through peaceful means despite Chinese intransigence, the government has decided to hold more military talks with China to resolve the border crisis.
Official sources told The Sunday Express that the date for these military talks has not been finalised so far, but they will follow the precedent of earlier rounds of military talks in Ladakh. The talks could be held both at the level of the Corps Commander and the Division Commander, sources said.
The decision to hold the talks at the military level, sources said, was taken after a review of discussions during the meeting Thursday of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China Border Affairs.
Sources said the decision to continue the engagement with the Chinese was despite the fact that the last few rounds of diplomatic and military talks have not led to any breakthrough due to the obstinate Chinese stance. New Delhi insists that the restoration of status quo ante as of April is its end goal, but the Chinese side has refused to do so at multiple friction points on the LAC.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a review meeting Saturday with NSA Ajit Doval, CDS General Bipin Rawat and the three services chiefs to discuss the Ladakh situation.
Five rounds of talks at the level of the Corps Commander have been held so far, with no progress on the ground after the fourth round on July 14. The fifth round of talks was held on August 2, where discussions were centered around the Chinese ingress of around 8 km at Pangong Tso and its continued deployment in the Gogra-Hot Springs area.
The last round of talks at the level of the Division Commander was held on August 8, which discussed ways to resolve the situation at the strategic Depsang Plains. Chinese troops have been blocking Indian patrols from accessing five patrolling points at a place 18 km inside the LAC.
Besides the military talks at various levels, there have been four rounds of WMCC meetings, a meeting and a phone conversation between the two Special Representatives, and meetings held by the Indian Ambassador to Beijing with top Chinese Communist Party officials.
Failing to achieve a breakthrough after more than 100 days of tensions, India has been preparing for an extended deployment of additional troops on the LAC in Ladakh.
This was stated by CDS General Rawat when he told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the military de-escalation process with China would be a long-drawn issue. In their collective depositions, the CDS and his senior colleagues said that as the process of the PLA’s de-escalation and pullback was likely to be an “extended one”, the Army was preparing to deploy personnel along the LAC during the harsh winter months.
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