Much of India’s summer posturing at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh for the approaching months will depend on the progress achieved in the 15th round of talks between senior military commanders on Friday, top defence officials told News18.
The 15th round of talks to discuss disengagement at the two remaining friction points at the LAC in eastern Ladakh began on 1000 hours on Friday. The primary agenda of the talks, according to sources, is “full disengagement” of troops at the Hot Springs area, an issue discussed in the last round of talks in January this year as well.
Resolution of the long-standing issue of Depsang plains and Demchok are also expected to feature in the talks, in which the Indian delegation would be led by 14th corps commander Lt. Gen. Anindya Sengupta, while People’s Liberation Army (PLA) commander of the south Xinjiang military district Major General Yang Lin would lead the Chinese delegation.
While the previous round of talks was constructive and both sides had agreed to meet at the earliest, there was no actual forward movement.
A top defence source told News18 that both sides are hopeful of a breakthrough in this round of talks in achieving full disengagement at the Hot Springs, where less than a platoon strength of around 20 troops continue facing each other.
During the last round of talks, News18 had reported that the two sides had formally agreed to disengage from Hot Springs in the 12th round of talks last year, but it was not fully implemented. The source quoted above said all efforts would be to ensure that the disengagement in this friction point is fully implemented after this round of talks.
Summer Strategy Will Depend on Talks
Aside from discussing the remaining friction points, establishing confidence ahead of the summer between the two opposing forces also featured in the last round of talks.
A second source said much of India’s summer strategy to be adopted by the troops in the next few months and other related plans for troops will depend on the outcome of this round of talks.
According to sources, the idea would be to reach an agreement with China on some reduction of troops in the region by both sides, including keeping fewer reserves too, in the rear.
At present, China has kept a large strength of troops in the region. India, too, has deployed over two divisions’ strength of troops in the Ladakh region.
“Given there has been trust deficit, any such move will depend on the agreement reached in this round of talks,” the second source quoted above said.
The sources clarified that India will continue holding the LAC even if any agreement for reduction of troops is achieved between the two sides.
“Along with that, the focus would be on rapid infrastructure development in Ladakh and border areas, for faster mobilisation of troops in case of a requirement,” the source added.
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