India tells China disengagement must for de-escalation of conflict
At the latest 11th round of military talks with China in eastern Ladakh to reduce tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian Army told the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that completion of disengagement at all friction points on the disputed border would set the stage for the two sides to “consider de-escalation of forces, ensure full restoration of peace and tranquility, and enable progress in bilateral relations,” the Indian Army said a day after the talks.
The two armies had a detailed exchange of views for the resolution of the remaining issues related to disengagement along the LAC, army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand said on Saturday.
India and China have been locked in a standoff in the Ladakh sector for over 11 months and are currently negotiating a withdrawal of troops and weapons from friction points on the disputed border. The 11th round of talks took place on the Indian side of the Chushul-Moldo meeting point on Friday and went on for 13 hours.
The focus of current military talks is on negotiating the next steps of a complex disengagement process that was completed in Pangong Tso in mid-February with the pull back of front-line troops and weapons. The Indian Army is focussing on resolving outstanding problems with the PLA at Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang.
“The two sides agreed on the need to resolve the outstanding issues in an expeditious manner in accordance with the existing agreements and protocols…The two sides agreed that it was important to take guidance from the consensus of their leaders, continue their communication and dialogue and work towards a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest,” Anand said. He added that the two armies also agreed to jointly maintain stability on the ground and avoid any new incidents.
It is good that both sides continue to engage each other, said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retd).
“The Indian side has clearly linked the de-escalation of forces and full restoration of peace with disengagement in remaining areas. We will have to now see what the Chinese response is. That will give some indication of how things go forward,” Hooda added. There was no official statement from the Chinese side when this report was filed.
While disengagement began and ended in the Pangong Lake sector in less than 10 days, it appears to have lost its initial momentum going by the lack of progress at other friction points on the LAC.
The PLA’s deployments in Depsang have hindered access of Indian soldiers to routes including the ones leading to Patrolling Points (PP) 10, 11, 11-A, 12 and 13.
The Indian Army’s patrolling activity has also been affected in Gogra and Hot Springs, where rival troops are forward deployed and where skeletal disengagement took place last year, but the gains could not be consolidated.
The 10th round of talks between corps commander-ranked officers of the two armies took place on February 20 after the completion of disengagement on strategic heights on both banks of Pangong Tso. Both sides pulled back their frontline troops, tanks, infantry combat vehicles and artillery guns under the disengagement agreement.