India, China to hold 12th round of talks today on LAC standoff
The talks between corps commander-ranked officers of the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will begin at 10.30 am at Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Top Indian and Chinese commanders will hold the 12th round of military talks in the Ladakh sector on Saturday to cool tensions between the two countries that have been locked in a border row for almost 14 months, officials familiar with the developments said on Friday.
The talks between corps commander-ranked officers of the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will begin at 10.30 am at Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), one of the officials cited above said on the condition of anonymity.
The previous round of military talks between the two sides was held on April 9 when the Indian Army told the PLA that disengagement at all friction points on the disputed border was crucial for de-escalation of the conflict.
“We are expecting forward movement in hammering out a disengagement agreement at Hot Springs and Gogra,” a second official said, asking not to be named.
The Indian Army and the PLA have held 11 rounds of talks between corps commander-ranked officers since June 6 last year to resolve the border row in eastern Ladakh, but the two sides have only had limited success in hammering out an agreement for disengagement of rival soldiers deployed at friction points on the contested LAC.
The only significant outcome of the military dialogue has been the disengagement of front-line troops and weaponry in Pangong Tso sector in mid-February after the ninth round of talks. The focus of the next round of talks will be on resolving problems at Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang. Both armies have 50,000 to 60,000 troops each in the Ladakh theatre and the deployments haven’t thinned after the disengagement in the Pangong Tso sector.
On May 28, army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said his soldiers were on high alert as the PLA continued to base its troops and mechanised elements, including tanks, in its “immediate depth” across the LAC from where they could be deployed to forward areas at short notice. The immediate depth in the context of the Ladakh sector refers to a distance of 150km to 200km from the LAC.
Naravane had also said that results should not be expected after every round of talks, citing the case of Pangong Tso where disengagement took place after nine rounds.
The Indian Army’s patrolling activity has been affected in Hot Springs and Gogra, where rival troops are forward deployed and where skeletal disengagement took place last year, but the gains could not be consolidated. The PLA’s deployments in Depsang have also hindered access of Indian soldiers to routes, including the ones leading to Patrolling Points 10, 11, 11-A, 12 and 13. To be sure, the problems at Depsang predate the current border standoff.