India and China to enter the ninth round of military-level talks
India and China will hold the ninth round of military-level talks on Sunday – January 24 – to find ways to defuse stand-offs now on for the last nine months at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh. The last round was in November and again tussles continued, and chances of a major breakthrough are unlikely. In eight rounds of talks thus far, though both sides agreed to diffuse and withdraw from strategic tension points, nothing worked out. The logjam is persisting at China wants India to first withdraw its troops from the heights of southern and northern banks of the Pangong Tso (lake). In August, the Indian Army secured these hilltops overlooking all the crucial Chinese deployments thereby putting them at a disadvantage.
India all along maintained that China has to first pull back its troops from all the five face-off sites in Eastern Ladakh besides thinning out its tank and artillery gun reinforcements in the depth areas. Both the sides have so far not managed to reach a mutually agreed plan for disengagement and de-escalation. At present, more than one lakh troops from both the sides are eyeball-to-eyeball at the border and prepared for a long haul, say, defence experts.
Indian Army Chief General M M Naravane on January 12 said the Indian Army was prepared to hold its ground in Eastern Ladakh “for as long as it takes” to achieve national objectives in case the ongoing military and diplomatic talks with China are prolonged.
The Corps Commander level parleys will take at Chushul-Moldo border meeting point at the LAC. The previous eight rounds since the stand-offs began in May were also held there. The last round was held on November 6 last year. While the talks at the military and diplomatic levels have so far not yielded any positive results, both the countries have reiterated their commitment to resolve the issue through dialogue. They have also again said they will abide by the agreements reached between the external affairs ministers of the two countries in September last year during one of one talks in Moscow. The commanders also said the two armies will ensure their soldiers exercise restraint and avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation, says Defence analysts.
Indian Army Chief General M M Naravane on January 12 said the Indian Army was prepared to hold its ground in Eastern Ladakh “for as long as it takes” to achieve national objectives in case the ongoing military and diplomatic talks with China are prolonged. He also said India hoped to reach an agreement with China-based on the principles of “mutual and equal security” that would result in disengagement of border troops at friction points and subsequent de-escalation of the conflict in the Ladakh theatre. Indian troops are braving harsh winters at the LAC with the temperature dipping to minus 30 degrees. In order to ensure they are able to withstand the vagaries of weather, the Army has made adequate arrangements for winter clothing and prefabricated heated huts.
Besides the 1,700 km long LAC sector in Ladakh, the armed forces have ramped up their military strength in terms of personnel and weapons all along the LAC stretching from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. Though in the eighth round of talks in November, both sides agreed to deescalate manpower and ammunition from strategic tension points, nothing worked out.
Recently PGurus reported on the ditching of Russia by delaying the supply of S-400 missile systems and extending the start of supply from December 2021 in a five-year span. Meanwhile, China has already placed S-400 missile systems in Tibet region pointing towards Ladakh.