Indian and Chinese military commanders on Wednesday held “productive” talks to end the border standoff in eastern Ladakh, a day after initiating a limited disengagement of troops from a number of friction points in the high altitude region, people familiar with the development said.
In the over four-and-half-hour Major General-level dialogue, the Indian delegation pressed for total restoration of status quo ante and immediate withdrawal of thousands of Chinese troops from the areas including around Pangong Tso which India considers on its side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), they said.
“The talks were productive as both sides exchanged views in a positive atmosphere. Both the armies are committed to end the row through talks,” a senior military official said without elaborating.
The talks came a day after the two armies began a limited disengagement in a few areas in Galwan Valley and Hot Spring in a demonstration of their intent to ease tension along the LAC, the de-facto border between the two countries.
“The Indian side put across their views clearly. The Chinese side too explained their position,” the official told PTI on condition of anonymity.
It is learnt that the two sides remained engaged in an aggressive posturing in areas such as Pangong Tso, Daulat Beg Oldie and Demchok though some troops were pulled back from Galwan and Hot Spring.
Military sources on Tuesday said the two armies began “disengagement” around patrolling points 14 and 15 in Galwan Valley and another in the Hot Spring area, adding the Chinese side has even moved back up to 1.5 km in the two areas.
Indian and Chinese troops were in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation since May 5 following a violent clash on the bank of Pangong lake.
Asked about the disengagement, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson told reporters in Beijing that Indian and Chinese troops have started implementing the “positive consensus” reached by the senior military officials of the two countries on June 6.
“Recently the diplomatic and military channels of China and India held effective communication on the situation along the border and reached positive consensus,” the spokesperson, Hua Chunying, said.
In their first serious efforts to end the row, Lt General Harinder Singh, the general officer commanding of Leh-based 14 Corps, and Commander of the Tibet Military District Maj Gen Liu Lin held a nearly seven-hour meeting on June 6.
In the next one week, the field commanders of the two sides are slated to hold a series of meetings to discuss specific measures to defuse the tension.
The Major General-level talks took place on the Indian side of the LAC in eastern Ladakh.
Saturday’s talks came a day after the two countries held diplomatic parleys during which both sides agreed to handle their “differences” through peaceful discussions while respecting each other’s sensitivities and concerns.
In a statement, India’s external affairs ministry had on Sunday said that the the meeting took place in a “cordial and positive atmosphere” and that both sides agreed that an “early resolution” of the issue would contribute to the further development of the relationship between the two countries.
After the standoff began in early last month, Indian military leadership decided that Indian troops will adopt a firm approach in dealing with the aggressive posturing by the Chinese troops in all disputed areas of Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie.
The Chinese Army has been gradually ramping up its strategic reserves in its rear bases near the the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by rushing in artillery guns, infantry combat vehicles and heavy military equipment, the sources said.
The trigger for the face-off was China’s stiff opposition to India laying a key road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso Lake besides construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.
The road in the Finger area in Pangong Tso is considered crucial for India to carry out patrol. India has already decided not to stall any border infrastructure projects in eastern Ladakh in view of Chinese protests.
The situation in the area deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on May 5 and 6. The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9.
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LAC. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it.
Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
In their historic informal summit in Chinese city of Wuhan in 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored the importance of maintaining peace and tranquillity in all areas of the India-China border region in the interest of the development of bilateral relations.
The summit had taken place months after a 73-day military face-off between the two armies in Doklam that raised fears of a war between the two Asian giants.
In their talks on June 6, both sides agreed to follow the broad decisions taken by Modi and Xi in the Wuhan summit to ensure peace and tranquillity along the LAC.