New Delhi: Two days after the militaries of China and India withdrew their troops and weapons from the North and South banks of Pangong lake areas as part of an agreement, both the Asian superpowers on Saturday held another round of military talks with a focus on taking forward the disengagement process in Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang in eastern Ladakh, to bring down the tensions in the region, as per official reports.
“The focus of the talks is on carrying forward the disengagement process,” said a source.
The 10th round of Corps Commander-level meeting started at 10 am at the Moldo border point on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control and it was continuing, the sources said adding that India will further insist on a faster disengagement process in remaining areas like Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang, the regions that have witnessed a tense standoff between the two militaries for over nine months.
Breaking the big news in the Parliament on February 11, defence minister Rajnath Singh had revealed that India and China have reached an agreement on disengagement in the North and South banks of Pangong lake that mandates both sides to “cease” forward deployment of troops in a “phased, coordinated and verifiable” manner.
“Our sustained talks with China have led to agreement on disengagement on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake. After this agreement, India-China will remove forward deployments in a phased, coordinated manner,” the Defence Minister had apprised the Rajya Sabha.
Under the agreement, he said Chinese would keep their troop present in the North Bank area to east of Finger 8 while the Indian troops would be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3 in the region. Similar action would take place on the south bank of the lake as well, he said in his parliamentary address.
As per sources, following the disengagement process that began on February 10, troops of both sides have retreated to positions that were agreed upon by both the sides.
The Indian delegation at Saturday’s talks is being led by Lt Gen PGK Menon, the Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, whereas the Chinese side was to be headed by Maj Gen Liu Lin, the commander of the South Xinjiang military district of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
In his statement in Parliament, the minister had also informed that both sides have agreed to a moratorium on military activities in the North Bank, including patrolling, in traditional areas, adding that the patrolling would begun when both sides reached an agreement in diplomatic and military talks. He further said there were still some outstanding issues on deployment and patrolling at some other points along the LAC in eastern Ladakh and further discussions would be needed to resolve the issue.
Days later, the Defence Ministry said other outstanding “problems” including in Depsang, Hot Springs and Gogra will be taken up at the upcoming talks between military commanders of the two countries.
In November 2021, senior government sources had told that a disengagement plan had been readied but there was no agreement on implementing it. That plan included both sides pulling back armour; tanks and armoured personnel carriers, from close to the LAC.
In May-June last year, India-China tensions resurfaced with a series of skirmishes in the Pangong Lake region, which escalated on June 14, when 20 Indian soldiers died for the country in a physical clash in Galwan Valley. Since then, there have been several rounds of talks to resolve the standoff.