The next round of military talks between India and China at the level of the Corps Commander will focus on disengagement by both sides at Pangong Tso and Depsang, the two areas where the location of the Line of Actual Control is disputed by both countries.
An Army officer told The Indian Express that the next round of talks at the level of Corps Commander will be held within the next three to four days. It was facilitated by the WMCC meeting between the two countries on Friday, and could be held as soon as both sides provide confirmation on the hotline.
Even the previous Corps Commander-level talks on June 30 were preceded by a WMCC meeting. The officer said the Corps Commander talks will cover broader disengagement at all friction points on the LAC, but the focus of discussions will be on the Pangong lake area and the Depsang plains.
Unlike Galwan, Hot Springs and Gogra where the two armies did not historically dispute the LAC on the ground, both the sides disagree on where the LAC passes at Pangong and Depsang.
This makes a disengagement plan at both the locations far more difficult than the three locations of PP14, PP15 and PP17A where some soldiers from both sides have stepped back from the faceoff sites. It is not feasible for India to step back an equal distance at Pangong as the Chinese have come in 8 km west of Finger 8 which India says marks the LAC.
A second officer said: “If the Chinese go back by 3 km from Pangong and we also go back the same distance, we would be 11 km away from the LAC. It will be a huge disadvantage for us, territorially and tactically. That is why the principle for disengagement at Pangong will have to be different. Ideally, it has to be the restoration of status quo ante as of April.”
The Chinese have come up to Finger 4 from their erstwhile location at Finger 8. Fingers are spurs jutting out from the ridge on the northern bank of the saltwater lake. India has an administrative base west of Finger 3. The main Indian base is further west at Finger 2.
According to the first officer, there was no major change in the ground situation at Pangong on Friday. Some Chinese troops stepped back to east of Finger 4 but most remained deployed on the ridge. India had also thinned its positions at the administrative base by an equal strength in the area. Further progress on the ground is expected after the next round of talks at the level of the Corps Commander.