India and Chinese commanders met for a senior level meeting on Saturday but failed to achieve an immediate breakthrough to the month-long Ladakh stand-off .
The Indian delegation was led by Lt General Harinder Singh, the general officer commanding of Leh-based 14 Corps, while the Chinese side was headed by the Commander of the Tibet Military District.
The meeting was scheduled to be held at 8:30 am at Moldo border meeting point inside Chinese territory opposite Chushul but was delayed to 11:30 am.
The meeting went on for more than four hours after which the commanders returned to their bases to inform their higher commanders.
A detailed report on the proceedings have already reached by Indian Army Chief General M M Navarane.
Top sources said that Indian delegation strongly pressed for a ‘restoration of pre-April status quo’ in the whole Ladakh sector , a pull back of heavy weaponry and troops from areas where the Chinese intrusions have taken place and ensuring a climate of trust and peace .
The Chinese delegation pressed for stopping of Indian road building programmes in the region which they described as ‘defence infrastructure ‘ but the Indian commanders insisted the roads were being built inside Indian territory far away from the disputed zone.
” Defence Infrastructure yes, but we have a right to build that in our own territory. You have done that already on your area, why are you stopping us now, it is to defend our area,” the Chinese were clearly told.
Both sides say the meeting was ‘ positive but inconclusive ‘ and pointed out more meetings at higher level were on cards.
The meeting comes a day after Indian and Chinese ambassadors joined a video call between diplomats of their border working mechanism on Friday to underline that “the two sides should handle their differences through peaceful discussion” and “not allow them to become disputes”.
In keeping with military niceties, the Chinese allowed the Indian side to make the first submission.
The Indians began by asking both sides to maintain peace and tranquillity on the border, and to adhere to protocols and agreements signed by the two countries since 1993.
The Chinese agreed and later responded to the Indian request for restoration of pre-April status quo by insisting the Indian ‘extensive defence infrastructure development’ must stop.
Meanwhile, an analysis of high-resolution satellite images of the Pangong Tso area in Ladakh shows that not only have the Chinese changed the status quo at the Fingers, the mountain spurs along the lake, but also built “substantial” structures in the contested region of the Line of Actual Control, reports ‘Indian Express’.
Colonel S Dinny, who was commanding officer of an Indian Army battalion at Pangong Tso between 2015 and 2017, told The Indian Express after looking at satellite images from May 27 that the structures were not there earlier.
“That definitely was not there before. It is not a normal thing that goes on between Finger 4 and Finger 8. It is what we call a change in status quo in the disputed area.”
Nearly six years ago, the last major standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies in Ladakh was resolved peacefully through military and diplomatic talks.
As is happening now, the talks at the military level were held in Ladakh while the diplomatic discussion took place in Beijing. The diplomatic conferencing now is virtual due to Covid pandemic.