Even as temperatures dip to minus 20 degrees at some of the hilltops in Eastern Ladakh that have become friction points between the Indian and Chinese armies, the eight-round of top military-level talks are taking place on Friday at Chushul.
India’s stand is that there should be a complete de-escalation and not just in a few selected places as suggested by China earlier, sources said.
“We want complete de-escalation. Reduction of troops from some areas and de-induction of weapons is not a viable option and is not what we have proposed,” said an official.
Sources said with temperatures dipping, the health of troops is a big concern even though the Indian forces have been well equipped with winter gear, clothing and special tents to sustain the harsh weather that will further dip.
This is the first time, Lieutenant General PGK Menon is leading the Indian delegation as he took charge of the Leh-based 14 Corps last month from Lt Gen Harinder Singh.
Lt Gen Menon attended the previous two meetings as one of the members of the Indian delegation.
Joint Secretary from the Ministry of External Affairs Navin Srivastava was also part of the delegation.
The standoff in Ladakh started in early May and the deadlock has continued for six months now. Things escalated when in a violent clash 20 Indian Army men were killed in a clash and China also lost soldiers but the casualties on the Chinese side have not been made public.
In early September there were reports of gunshots fired in the air in more than one instance. Since then things remained tense but there has been no violence reported.
A day before the talks, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh without naming China said India is facing challenges on its borders and will defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“India is a peace-loving country and that peace can only be ensured through the ability to deter war,” Rajnath Singh said while speaking at a webinar celebrating the Diamond Jubilee to mark 60 years of the National Defence College in Delhi.
The minister said: “We believe that differences should not become disputes. We attach importance to the peaceful resolution of differences through dialogue. India is determined to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of unilateralism and aggression, no matter what the sacrifice.”
The last meeting took place on October 12 and ended without a breakthrough but both countries have agreed to maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels, and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible.
On August 30, India in a counter operation occupied critical unmanned mountain heights south of the Pangong Lake including Rechin La, Rezang La and Mukpari.
Courtesy – IndiaToday