New Delhi: After an over year-long standoff between India and China, “forward movement is expected” in the Gogra and Hot Springs area of Eastern Ladakh following the 12th round of corps commander-level talks between the two countries Saturday, ThePrint has learnt.
Sources said that after the nine-hour talks, the shortest corps commander-level parleys since the stand-off began in May last year, field commanders will be in touch with each other to work out the modalities of issues agreed by the higher hierarchy.
“We may expect forward movement,” a source in the security establishment aware of the developments told ThePrint.
The source said that the forward movement is expected in Gogra and Hot Springs, which have been referred to as “low hanging fruits”.
Both sides reaffirmed the agreement not to build up more troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) or indulge in any activity that may escalate the tensions.
Another source said that a “graduated disengagement” is likely to take place. A formal joint statement is expected to be issued by India Monday or Tuesday, sources said.
The talks, which began at 10.30 am Saturday in Moldo on the Chinese side of the LAC, ended at around 7.30 pm in the evening.
India stressed on its key demands during talks
It is learnt that during the talks, which was led by 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen PGK Menon and held on the eve of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Day, India stressed that disengagement was necessary before the two countries opt for de-escalation.
This was contrary to what China had said during the last corps commander-level talks held in May.
Sources indicated that the Chinese were more receptive to India’s views this time around unlike the last time when they refused.
De-escalation before disengagement would be an advantage for China as it can move troops back to the frontline much faster than India due to the better infrastructure on its side of the Himalayan frontier.
India also raised the issue of Depsang Plains and sought restoration of patrolling rights. This is because China has been blocking Indian patrols to Patrolling Points 10, 11, 11A, 12 and 13.
Will be the 3d disengagement agreement in Gogra, Hot Springs
The reason why forward movement was expected in the Gogra and Hot Springs area since the disengagement in southern and northern banks of Pangong Tso in February is because the Chinese had already agreed to do so on two occasions last year.
The first agreement was reached during the first corps commander-level officers meeting on 6 June 2020 but it culminated in the 15 June Galwan Valley clash as the Chinese refused to fulfil their part of the agreement.
Following the clash, another agreement was reached and Chinese did withdraw certain troops from the Gogra and Hot Springs areas. They, however, did not complete the process.
Satellite images of the Hot Springs area reveal that while China initially had set up tents on Indian territory in May last year, they had converted them into semi-permanent structures.
Soldiers from both sides are not in an eyeball-to-eyeball kind of situation but are within visible distance of each other.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)