India-China Border Talks Again
New Delhi: Talks between senior army commanders of India and China were underway on Saturday to take forward the disengagement process along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at a number of friction points including in Daulat Beg Oldi and Depsang in eastern Ladakh, people familiar with the developments said.
The Major General-level talks are being held at a border personnel meeting point in Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) area on the Chinese side of the LAC, they said.
The meeting comes a week after the two armies held the fifth round of Corps commander-level (Lt Gen) discussions in an effort to expedite the disengagement process.
At the military talks, the Indian side has been insisting on complete disengagement of Chinese troops at the earliest and immediate restoration of status quo ante in all areas of eastern Ladakh prior to May 5 when the standoff began following a clash between the two armies in Pangong Tso.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has pulled back from Galwan Valley and certain other friction points but the withdrawal of its troops has not moved forward from the Finger areas in Pangong Tso, Gogra and Depsang as demanded by India, according to sources.
India has been insisting that China must withdraw its forces from areas between Finger Four and Eight. The mountain spurs in the area are referred to as Fingers.
The formal process of disengagement of troops began on July 6, a day after a nearly two-hour telephonic conversation between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on ways to bring down tensions in the area.
Both sides held several rounds of Major General-level talks in May and June before the level of negotiations was upgraded to the level of Corps commanders.
The people familiar with the developments said Saturday’s talks will primarily focus on the disengagement process in Daulat Beg Oldi and Depsang areas.
Considering the situation on the ground, the Indian Army and the IAF have decided to maintain a very high-level of operational readiness in all areas along the LAC in Ladakh, North Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh till a “satisfactory” resolution to the border row with China is arrived at, sources said.
Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane has already conveyed to all the senior commanders of the Army, overseeing operation of the frontline formations along the LAC, to keep up a significantly high state of alertness and maintain the aggressive posturing to deal with any Chinese “misadventure”, they said.
The fresh directive to maintain a very high-level of alertness came in the wake of lack of forward movement in implementation of the disengagement process by Chinese military in friction points like Pangong Tso, Depsang and Gogra.
The Indian army has already made elaborate plans to maintain current strength of troops and weapons along the LAC during the harsh winter months in eastern Ladakh and all other sensitive areas along the LAC.
It is also in the process of procuring a number of weapons, ammunition and winter gears for the frontline troops
The temperature in some of the high-altitude areas along the LAC drops to minus 25 degree celsius in the winter months.
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