Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 30
Senior military commanders of India and China will be meeting for another round of talks on July 31 to make yet another attempt to diffuse tensions and ‘pull back’ from the military posturing along the 832-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC) In Eastern Ladakh.
This is the first meeting at the level of Lt Generals since April 9 and will be the 12th round of senior military-level talks since June 6 last year between the two sides.
The talks are slated to commence at 10 am at the Moldo Garrison of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China. Moldo, located at the western edge of the Spanngur Tso (lake), faces the Indian garrison at Chushul in Eastern Ladakh.
Lt Gen PGK Menon, the 14 Corps Commander, will lead the talks from the Indian side.
Expected on the agenda is the ‘disengagement and de-escalation’ of troops, weapons and equipment from Gogra and Hot Springs, two flash points along the LAC. The Chinese do not want to bring up the discussion on troop buildup in Depsang plains at the talks.
India, on the other hand, suggested a graded and phased time-bound complete ‘disengagement and de-escalation’ from all along the 832 km of LAC in Eatsern Ladakh. Depsang is a flat plateau of 972 square km at an altitude of 16,000 feet. The Indian Army holds a majority of the Depsang plains, while the PLA holds the eastern edge of the plains. The two sides have built up troops since May last year.
More than 15 months into the military stand-off in Eastern Ladakh, India and China are not agreeable on the sequence of pulling back troops, the Tribune had reported on July 26 this month.
On February 10 this year, troops of either side started the ‘disengagement’ process from along the banks of Pangong Tso, a 135-km glacial lake. The present position of troops is not face-to-face, but they are within the striking range from where rapid redeployment is possible.
Both sides have some 75,000 troops lined up on either side of the LAC in Eastern Ladakh.
India is suggesting a three-step process be followed. The first-step being disengagement from areas where troops are within close proximity. The next two steps — de-escalation and de-induction, would entails pulling back troops and war waging equipment to the pre-April 2020 home bases.
Commanders of the PLA want ‘de-escalation and de-induction’ should happen first. The troops that would remain back within close proximity can then ‘dis-engage’ is the suggestion from PLA, sources said.
The Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination (WMCC) on India-China border affairs met virtually on June 25 and decided that next round of military level talks be conducted.
The WMCC is a group which has representatives of foreign ministries and militaries of both sides.
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