Wednesday, March 29, 2023
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Leh-based 14 Corps gets new commander ahead of LAC talks with China likely this month

The Corps Commander level talks have failed to make any headway with regard to Depsang and Demchok, where tensions predate the ongoing stand-off.

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New Delhi: Amid continued stand-off with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh, Lt Gen Rashim Bali Monday took over as the new commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps.

After assuming command, Lt Gen Bali paid homage at the War Memorial in Leh, the Army said in a statement.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said that the next round of Corps Commander level talks – the 18th meeting – between India and China are likely to be held this month and both sides are in the process of finalising the talks.

Lt Gen Bali, who has served as the Defence Attaché in Afghanistan and also headed the Victor Force that takes care of counter-terrorism operations in South Kashmir, takes charge at a time when there has been a stalemate at the LAC.

While both India and China have managed to disengage from the stand-off positions in Eastern Ladakh – northern and southern banks of the Pangong Tso, Gogra and the Hot Springs area – they have failed to make any headway with regard to Depsang and Demchok, where tensions predate the ongoing stand-off.

Though troops have disengaged at several locations along the LAC, they continue to remain deployed in forward areas, along with their armoured and artillery equipment.

India has been calling for de-escalation, which would entail the return of all additional troops and equipment in forward areas to their pre-April 2020 positions.

Notably, the latest annual report by the ministry of External Affairs released Monday said India’s relations with China remain “complex” despite some progress in border talks.

The MEA accused China of trying to change the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), ever since the Galwan Valley clash in 2020.

During the last Corps Commander level talks, held in December 2022 after a gap of five months, the talks failed to achieve any breakthrough over the issue of de-escalation and strategically important Depsang Plains.

That time, the defence and security establishment sources had told ThePrint that while going back to pre-May 2020 status quo was a key demand, the Chinese are unlikely to do so given the amount of infrastructure they have built on their sides to set up new surface-to-air missiles sites, roads, bridges, heliports and hardened shelters and barracks.

Similarly, India too will find it difficult to pull back as well because there is a huge trust deficit when it comes to China, the sources had said.

The current deployment is also giving the Chinese an opportunity to get their soldiers into a real war scenario, they said.

Also read: India, China risk armed confrontation due to continued military posturing: US intelligence assessment


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