File image of Indian soldiers in Ladakh | By special arrangement
File image of Indian soldiers in Ladakh | Representational image | By special arrangement
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New Delhi: India and China have agreed to discuss “complete disengagement” along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh, the Army said Thursday. 

This comes after the fourth round of talks between the corps commanders of India and China Tuesday, which went on for 15 hours at Chushul.

Multiple meetings were held Wednesday to discuss the outcome of the talks, including by the government’s high-powered China Study Group (CSG) — a panel comprising top civil servants, armed forces and intelligence personnel — that serves as policy adviser to the executive on China. 

The meeting was attended by Army Chief General M.M. Naravane and 14 Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Harinder Singh, who has been representing India at all the Corps Commander-level meetings held with South Xinjiang Military District, Major General Lin Liu since 6 June.

Also read: Army plans to buy 350 helicopters over 10 years to modernise its Aviation Corps

‘Intricate, require constant verification’

The Army said in the statement: “The engagement was consistent with the consensus reached between the Special Representatives of India and China earlier, on 5 July, to discuss complete disengagement.”

It added, “The Senior Commanders reviewed the  progress on implementation of the first phase of disengagement and discussed further steps to ensure complete disengagement.”

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While the Army said the two sides remain committed to the objective of complete disengagement, it added the process would be “intricate and would require constant verification”. 

India and China have been engaged in discussions since June through established military and diplomatic channels to address the prevailing situation along the LAC.

The two sides are taking it forward through regular meetings at diplomatic and military levels, the Army said. 

According to sources, a review of the ongoing pulling back of troops at Galwan Valley, Hot Springs area and Gogra Post was carried out and the further disengagement at Finger 4 of Pangong Tso was discussed Tuesday.

Pullback of troops have taken place

As reported by ThePrint Wednesday, the disengagement process has been slow and is likely to last several months through the winter. 

“For Finger 4 to 8, the claim lines are being discussed further and the future discussions, as decided in the last corps commanders talks, would be on them,” a defence source told ThePrint.  

“The current deployment will be withdrawn in a phased manner, and timelines and modalities for various patrol points, such as PP-14, are being worked out,” the source added.

That is because, the source said, while there has been a pullback of troops from most areas, they are yet to return to pre-April positions. 

For instance, Indian troops are still not going to certain patrol points as they used to go earlier.

Sources had earlier said while the Chinese troops have retreated from Indian side of the LAC at various locations, the Chinese build-up remains, which is much ahead of their peacetime locations pre-April. 

However, there has not been a tangible pullback from Finger 4 at Pangong Tso and Depsang Plains, they said.

Instructions have been given to the troops to avoid any engagement, and ensure adequate distancing between troops on ground and in the lake.

Another source said certain ad hoc or temporary patrol points are being worked out so the troops do not go beyond them.

“Once identified on ground, it will ensure that there is no physical clash of troops,” the source said.

The key takeaways, sources said, were that both countries want resolution in a peaceful manner and want to avoid clashes, which may escalate the situation. 

Also read: No additional troops or new tents — what India, China discussed at corps commanders’ meet


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