New Delhi, August 12
India and China are set to hold their next round of military commander-level talks — the 19th round since June 2020 — on August 14. The two sides look to end the ongoing impasse along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) where the two militaries have been locked in a stand-off since April 2020. The talks have been scheduled after almost four months. The last round conducted on April 23 ended in a stalemate. Since then there has been a series of high-level contacts between the two sides. The fresh round of talks is set to take place at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Indian side.
The Indian delegation is likely to be headed by Lt Gen Rashim Bali, Commander of the Leh-headquartered 14 Corps. The Chinese team is expected to be led by the commander of the South Xinjiang Military District.
Differences remain unresolved over pulling back of troops from the Depsang plain areas and Charding Nullah near Demchok. The talks are deadlocked over the pending resolution of disputes at Depsang, a 972-sq km plateau where the two sides have issue over troop positions, especially at ‘bottleneck’ on the eastern edge of Depsang.
India has been objecting to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) deliberately blocking Indian patrols on this specific patrolling route in Depsang, sources said. Prior to April 2020, Indian patrols used the patrolling route, however, the PLA has been craftily using a clause in a 30-year old border agreement to block Indian patrols.
India has already suggested to China that a graded three-step process is needed to ease the standoff. The first is disengagement of troops within close proximity of each other in grey zones along the LAC and getting back to positions as on April 2020.
The next two steps — de-escalation and de-induction —would entail pulling back troops and equipment to the pre-April 2020 levels. Till that is agreed upon and complied, it cannot be assumed to be business as usual and Indian troops intend to remain at the LAC.
3 years, no solution
The two militaries have been locked in a stand-off since April 2020. Even after 18 rounds of talks, no solution is in sight. India wants pullback of the troops back to positions as on April 2020.
Developments since the last round
- India raised the matter with Chinese defence minister at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting on April 27-28.
- Last month, the MEA said PM Modi and Xi Jinping spoke on the need to stabilise ties during the G20 summit in Bali.
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