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Lt Gen-level talks likely to finalise next phase of disengagement
New Delhi: The Indian Army and the Chinese PLA are expected to hold another round of high-level talks by Wednesday to thrash out modalities for the next phase of de-escalation as part of complete disengagement of troops in eastern Ladakh besides finalising a roadmap for ensuring peace and tranquillity in the high-altitude region, military sources said on Sunday.
There was no change in the ground position, and the next phase of the de-escalation process will kick off only after the fourth round of talks between corps commanders of the two sides, they said.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has already completed pulling back troops from Gogra, Hot Springs and Galwan Valley and significantly thinned down its presence in the ridgeline of Finger Four in the Pangong Tso area in the last one week as demanded by India.
India has been insisting that China must withdraw its forces from areas between Finger Four and Eight. The mountain spurs in the area are referred to as Fingers.
A relative calm prevails in the areas, the sources said adding India has been maintaining a hawk-eyed vigil in all areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh region and was fully ready to deal with any eventualities.
The top military brass in Delhi is monitoring the situation in the region round-the-clock, they said, adding there is no question of lowering guard at all. The sources said the fourth round of Lt General-level talks are likely to be held on either Tuesday or Wednesday and the main focus of it would be to finalise modalities for withdrawal of troops from rear bases of the two militaries.
The formal process of disengagement of troops began last Monday after a nearly two-hour telephonic conversation between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday.
On Friday, India and China held another round of diplomatic talks during which both sides resolved to push ahead with “complete disengagement” of troops in eastern Ladakh in a timely manner for “full restoration” of peace and tranquillity.
In the meeting, it was decided that senior commanders of the two armies will meet “soon” to discuss further steps to “ensure complete disengagement and de-escalation”.
The two militaries have held three rounds of Lt General-level talks so far and the last one took place on June 30 during which both sides agreed on an “expeditious, phased and step wise” de-escalation as a “priority” to end the standoff.
The first round of the Lt General talks was held on June 6 during which both sides finalised an agreement to disengage gradually from all the standoff points beginning with Galwan Valley. However, the situation deteriorated following the Galwan Valley clashes as the two sides significantly bolstered their deployments in most areas along the LAC.
The second round of talks took place on June 22. The Indian and Chinese armies have been locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for over eight weeks since May 5.
The tension escalated manifold after a violent clash in Galwan Valley in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed. (PTI)