New Delhi: Top military commanders from India and China will hold another round of talks on 12 October as both sides prepare to stay dug in at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh through the winter, which has already started setting in.
Sources in the defence and security establishment have ruled out any possibility of troop presence being thinned during the winter. All steps, they added, will be mutual and “taken after proper verification process”.
This will be the first round of talks after China raked up the 1959 claim line issue this week.
Sources said that if during the talks the Chinese raise the issue, Indian Army will reject it as always.
The Ministry of External Affairs this week rejected China’s attempt to project the 1959 claim line as the LAC, saying India has never accepted the “so-called unilaterally defined 1959 Line of Actual Control (LAC)”.
The 12 October meeting will be the last involving 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen. Harinder Singh, who will then take over as the Commandant of the Indian Military Academy after handing over the charge to Lt Gen. P.G.K. Menon on 14 October.
This will be the seventh commanders’ meeting aimed at resolving the current India-China standoff in Ladakh. Participants will include Lt Gen. Menon and Joint Secretary (East Asia), Ministry of External Affairs, Naveen Srivastava.
The two were also present at the first India-China military-diplomatic meeting last month, which was held as tensions between the two sides continue to simmer at the border. That meeting ended in a stalemate.
At the next meeting, sources said, India will stick to its stand that disengagement should happen at all friction points, and not just at the southern bank of Pangong Tso, as China is insisting on.
China has been peeved with India’s move on the intervening night of 29-30 August, when specialised units and regular soldiers outflanked the Chinese and occupied crucial heights along the southern bank of the Pangong Tso.
Forward deployment during Ladakh winter first for India, China
The fresh round of talks comes at a time when the winter has already started to set in in Ladakh.
Forward deployment through the region’s freezing winter will be a first for India and China, which have posted over 50,000 troops each near the LAC in Ladakh backed by artillery, tanks and other equipment.
While there was no forward movement on the ground, both India and China issued a joint statement after the 21 September meeting, saying they have agreed to stop sending more troops to the frontlines in Ladakh, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground, and avoid taking any actions that may complicate the situation.
A joint statement is also expected to be issued after the talks on 12 October.