Updated: April 11, 2021 7:09:50 am
A day after India and China concluded their 11th round of discussions at the Corps Commander-level to try and end the nearly year-long military standoff along the Line of Actual Control, the Ministry of Defence said Saturday that “the two sides had a detailed exchange of views for the resolution of the remaining issues related to disengagement along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh”.
The “remaining issues” reference was to the continuing standoff at the friction points in Hot Springs, Gogra Post and Depsang Plains – Indian and Chinese troops and armoured columns had disengaged on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso in February.
Unlike the last few rounds, there was no joint statement Saturday on the outcome of the talks. A senior military officer said “both sides shared their proposals” and “more talks will be required” since “there has been no agreement”. The officer said the Indian side raised the issue of all friction points in eastern Ladakh during the discussions.
The Ministry of Defence, in its statement, said: “The two sides agreed on the need to resolve the outstanding issues in an expeditious manner in accordance with the existing agreements and protocols. In this context, it was highlighted also that completion of disengagement in other areas would pave the way for two sides to consider de-escalation of forces and ensure full restoration of peace and tranquility and enable progress in bilateral relations.”
“The two sides agreed that it was important to take guidance from the consensus of their leaders, continue their communication and dialogue and work towards a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest. They also agreed to jointly maintain stability on the ground, avoid any new incidents and jointly maintain peace in the border areas,” it said.
The meeting, which started around 10.30 am Friday on the Indian side of the Chushul-Moldo Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) point, went on for nearly 12 hours. The military commanders, it is learnt, discussed the friction areas at the patrolling points in Hot Springs, Gogra Post and Depsang Plains.
The Depsang Plains situation pre-dates the current standoff. The area, also known as the bulge, is sensitive for India because of its proximity to the Daulat Beg Oldie post and advance landing ground, close to the Karakoram Pass in the north.
The Indian delegation at the talks was led by XIV Corps Commander Lt Gen PGK Menon. Also present was Naveen Srivastava, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, who has been leading the Indian side at the meetings of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC). Major General Liu Lin, Commander of South Xinjiang Military District, led the Chinese team at the talks.
In February, Indian and Chinese troops disengaged on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso, and military sources said status quo ante had been achieved there – the standoff began in the first week of May last year.
On the north bank, China pulled its troops east of Finger 8 (which India says marks the LAC) and India went back to its position behind Finger 3 at the Dhan Singh Thapa post. All temporary structures, erected by China in the (temporary no-patrolling) stretch between, were also levelled. On the south bank and in the Chushul sub-sector, troops vacated the heights at Rechin La and Rezang La as per the agreement.
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