After a gap of over two-and-half months, the Indian and Chinese armies on Sunday held another round of Corps Commander-level talks with an aim to move forward on disengagement of troops from all friction points in eastern Ladakh, sources said. The ninth round of high-level military talks began at around 10 am at Moldo border point on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, they said.
The eighth and last round of military talks had taken place on November 6 during which both sides broadly discussed disengagement of troops from specific friction points. The Indian delegation at talks is being led by Lt Gen PGK Menon, the Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps.
India has all along been maintaining that the onus is on China to carry forward the process of disengagement and de-escalation at the friction points in the mountainous region. The seventh round of Corps Commander-level talks had taken place on October 12 during which China was pressing for withdrawal of Indian troops from a number of strategic heights around the Southern bank of Pangong lake.
However, India insisted that the disengagement process has to start simultaneously at all the friction points. Nearly 50,000 Indian Army troops are currently deployed in a high state of combat readiness in various mountainous locations in eastern Ladakh in sub-zero conditions as multiple rounds of talks between the two sides have not yielded concrete outcome to resolve the standoff.
China has also deployed an equal number of troops, according to officials. Last month, India and China held another round of diplomatic talks under the framework of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China border affairs. However, no concrete outcome emerged from the talks.
Following the sixth round of military talks, the two sides had announced a slew of decisions including not to send more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground and avoid taking any actions that may further complicate matters.
This round was held with a specific agenda of exploring ways to implement a five-point agreement reached between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at a meeting in Moscow on September 10 on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) conclave.
The pact included measures like quick disengagement of troops, avoiding action that could escalate tensions, adherence to all agreements and protocols on border management and steps to restore peace along the LAC.