India-China military talks – 12th round remains inconclusive
The nine-hour-long Indo-China 12th round of talks on Saturday between military commanders also ended inclusively. Though official statements were not released from both sides, many media houses quoting Indian Army sources reported that India and China “reaffirmed their commitment to continue the dialogue for early resolution” of the standoffs at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh. India also called for early disengagement of troops from the friction points as a prerequisite for restoring normal ties.
The 12th round of talks between the Corps Commanders of the two armies started at 10.30 am at the Moldo border meeting point on the Chinese side. After nearly three months, the talks taking place also saw the two commanders discussing all contentious issues regarding the friction points. The two sides may issue an official statement on Monday. At present, face-offs are on at the Hot Springs, Gogra, and the Depsang Valley. While China wants the future rounds of talks to be scaled down to the local level commanders, the Indian security establishment is wary of such a proposal. The two sides may agree to disengage from the Hot Springs and Gogra in the coming weeks, sources said here on Saturday. However, India will examine all the points emanating from the talks before giving the go-ahead.
The Indian and China armies disengaged from the southern and northern banks of the Pangong Tso in February this year.
Meanwhile, Brahma Chellaney, who researches on Chinese affairs expressed displeasure on earlier disengagement between the two countries, where India gave back captured Kailash Range, after the Galwan Valley tussle. “Modi’s vacation of the Kailash Heights as a Chinese New Year gift to Xi’s regime has greatly undermined India’s negotiating leverage. Today’s military talks center on two smaller Chinese encroachments, not on PLA’s land-grabs in the highly strategic Depsang region or in Demchok,” tweeted Chellaney.
Modi’s vacation of the Kailash Heights as a Chinese New Year gift to Xi’s regime has greatly undermined India’s negotiating leverage. Today’s military talks center on two smaller Chinese encroachments, not on PLA’s land-grabs in the highly strategic Depsang region or in Demchok.
— Brahma Chellaney (@Chellaney) July 31, 2021
Besides reiterating its stand on complete withdrawal of troops from all the friction points, India also insisted that status quo ante be restored as it was, before May last year. The stand-offs started in the first week of May when the Chinese troops tried to transgress the LAC at several points starting from the Pangong Tso lake.
The two armies disengaged from the southern and northern banks of the Pangong Tso in February this year. However, the stalemate continues since then as regards the other three friction points despite military and diplomatic level talks. The last round of Corps Commander level talks was held on April 9.
Sources said while the Hot Springs and Gogra may see an easing of tension, friction points in the Depsang valley and Demchok will be taken up once the disengagement is complete at Patrolling Points 15 and 17A in Gogra and Hot Springs.
Once the disengagement from all friction areas is complete, the de-escalation of the massive troop build-up along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh will be discussed after which both sides will work out new guidelines for patrolling in these areas.
At present, more than one lakh troops from both sides are deployed at the LAC in Eastern Ladakh since May last year leading to tension. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in mid-July this year on the sideline of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Both the ministers agreed to hold the commander-level talks as soon as possible and called for maintaining peace and tranquility at the LAC.
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