Indian, Chinese armies expected to hold Corps Commander-level talks early next week

Indian, Chinese armies expected to hold Corps Commander-level talks early next week

New Delhi: Indian and Chinese armies are expected to hold Corps Commander-level talks early next week with a focus on implementing provisions of a five-point roadmap agreed by the two countries to ease tensions and speed up the disengagement of troops in eastern Ladakh, government sources said on Friday.

India and China reached an agreement to resolve their border row at a meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on Thursday evening on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet.

The sources said the Indian Army will keenly observe Chinese military’s overall approach along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh in the next few days to make an assessment of their seriousness in easing tension in sync with the agreement on five points.

The agreement included measures like quick disengagement of troops, avoiding action that could escalate tensions, adherence to all agreements and protocols on border management and steps to restore peace along the LAC.

It also mentioned that the two sides should expedite work to conclude “new confidence building measures” to enhance peace and tranquillity in the border areas. However, the agreement has not mentioned any timeline for disengagement of troops.

It is learnt that Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane deliberated on the overall situation in Ladakh as well as on the provisions of the agreement with top military officials in the Army headquarters.

Separately, the two armies held another round of Brigade Commander-level talks in Chushul from 11 AM to 3 PM on Friday with a focus on bringing down tensions in the face-off sites, sources said.

“The Corps Commander-level talks are expected to be held early next week. It will definitely discuss the new agreement on resolution of the border row,” said a source.

The five-point consensus came days after a fresh confrontation between the two armies earlier this week in eastern Ladakh triggered a massive military build up by both sides in almost all friction points along the LAC.

The Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have been locked in a tense standoff in multiple areas along the LAC in eastern Ladakh since early May. Shots were fired across the LAC on Monday for the first time in 45 years with the two sides accusing each other of firing in the air.

In the five rounds of corps commander-level talks, the Indian side has been insisting on immediate restoration of status quo ante in all areas of eastern Ladakh prior to April. The face-off began on May 6.

The sources said India will not lower its guard and will maintain the current state of very high-level of combat readiness in eastern Ladakh till there are visible changes in the ground situation.

Separately, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and top military brass on Friday deliberated on the agreement reached at Jaishankar-Wang talks.

The deliberation was attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Gen Naravane, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh among others.

The meeting also carried out a comprehensive review of the security scenario in eastern Ladakh in view of fresh confrontation by two sides in the southern bank of Pangong lake earlier this week.

At the Jaishankar-Wang talks, the Indian delegation highlighted its strong concern over amassing of troops and military equipment by China along the LAC besides referring to “provocative behaviour” by Chinese army personnel at numerous incidents of friction, government sources said.

They said the Chinese side could not provide a credible explanation for the troops buildup.

The Indian side insisted that the immediate task is to ensure a comprehensive disengagement of troops in all the friction areas and that it is necessary to prevent any untoward incident in the future, the sources said.

In the last few days, the Army further bolstered its dominance over a number of strategic heights overlooking key Chinese-held positions around Pangong lake area.

The sources said additional reinforcements have been made in hill tops and strategic locations around Pangong lake to keep a hawk-eye vigil on Chinese-held position of Finger 4.

The mountainous spurs in the area are referred to as Finger. China has been holding onto Finger 4 to 8 on the north bank of Pangong lake, the sources said.

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