Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Ladakh on Friday along with Army Chief General MM Naravane to review the on-ground security situation amid the border standoff with China and the progress in talks with the Chinese military.
According to government sources, preparations are underway to arrange the visit, which is likely to conclude within a day. This will be Singh's first visit to Ladakh since the tensions broke out between the two countries in May, and Naravane's second in just over a week.
It will come after the third round of commander-level talks were held by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, the commander of India’s Leh-based XIV corps, and his People’s Liberation Army counterpart, South Xinjiang military region chief Major-General Liu Lin, on Tuesday.
At the talks that ran for 12 hours, government sources said broad parameters were agreed to disengage troops at Patrolling Point 14, 15 and 17, running from the Galwan Valley to the Hot Springs area, involving the PLA pulling back some hundreds of metres from territories claimed by India. Patrolling point 14 was the site where a large-scale hand-to-hand battle between troops had led to the loss of the lives of 20 Indian Army soldiers.
The Indian as well as the Chinese armies stressed the need for “expeditious and step-wise de-escalation” along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) as part of ongoing efforts to cool heightened border tensions.
Government sources, however, said there had been little progress on ending the confrontation along the Pangong lake, the site of the largest build-up on the LAC, the source of a violent clash on May 5 that left soldiers on both sides severely injured.
Even as the talks continue, the Indian armed forces are preparing for a long haul at the LAC, and have deployed extra troops, tanks and fighter planes to be ready for any scenario.
The Army Chief had visited Ladakh for two days last week to review the on-ground situation and had interacted with soldiers at the Military Hospital in Leh after the June 15 clash.