Indian, Chinese generals discuss de-escalation plan

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In the latest round of military contact between India and China, army delegations from both sides on Wednesday held talks in eastern Ladakh to ease tensions along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) where rival soldiers have been locked in a stand-off for more than five weeks, two senior officers familiar with the development said.

The Indian and Chinese delegations, led by major general-ranked officers, met at Patrolling Point 14 near the Galwan area as part continuing efforts to resolve the confrontation that has eased slightly with limited disengagement of forces at some LAC hotspots, said one of the two officers, both of whom requested anonymity.

The discussions between the military commanders of the two armies, Major General Abhijit Bapat, commander of the Karu-based HQs 3 Infantry Division and his Chinese counterpart were “positive and frank”, said the second officer cited above. It was, however, unclear what progress the border talks made.

This was the fourth round of talks between the two-star generals to break the stalemate that began with a violent confrontation between rival patrols near Pangong Tso on the night of May 5-6.

China has begun withdrawing its soldiers from three hot spots along the LAC, with India reciprocating by pulling back its forces deployed in those pockets, as reported by Hindustan Times on Wednesday.

The focus is now on resolving the situation on the northern bank of Pangong Tso, which has been at the centre of the ongoing border scrap and where troops are still locked in a face-off.

More military talks are planned in the coming days to ease border tensions. “Limited military disengagement” has taken place at the Galwan valley, Patrolling Point 15 and the Hot Springs area where Chinese soldiers have pulled back two to three km along with their infantry combat vehicles.

HT first reported on Monday that activity at the three sites declined after a seven-hour meeting between the military commanders of the two armies, Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps and Major General Liu Lin, commander of the PLA in the South Xinjiang region, at Moldo on the Chinese side of the LAC.

While the disengagement of forces along the LAC is a positive move, the army remains concerned about the Chinese military build-up in so-called “depth areas” or areas within the Chinese side of the LAC, the officers said, stressing that India had matched China’s military moves.

The Chinese build-up involves the deployment of more than 8,000 troops, tanks, artillery guns, fighter bombers, rocket forces and air defence radars, and full de-escalation would require the soldiers and the weapons systems being pulled back to their original locations, the officers said.

Around 250 soldiers of the two armies clashed near Pangong Tso last month with the scuffle leaving scores of troops injured. While an immediate flare-up was avoided as both armies stuck to protocols to resolve the situation, tensions swiftly spread to other pockets along the LAC.

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