There was no visible forward movement at the latest round of military talks between India and China for disengagement of troops at the remaining friction points of Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang in eastern Ladakh as the Chinese side did not show flexibility in their approach on this issue, people familiar with the negotiations said on Saturday. A day after the 11th round of talks thatlasted for 13 hours, the Indian Army said in a statement that both sides held a detailed deliberation on disengagement in remaining areas and agreed to jointly maintain stability on the ground, avoid any new incidents and resolve the outstanding issues in an “expeditious manner".
The people cited above said the Chinese delegation came to the talks with a “premeditated mindset" and did not show any flexibility in moving forward on the disengagement process at the remaining friction points. The Indian Army statement said it was highlighted at the talks that completion of disengagement in other areas would pave the way for considering “de-escalation of forces" and ensure full restoration of peace and tranquillity in the region.
The Corps Commander-level talks took place at the Chushul border point on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. The parleys began at around 10:30 AM and ended at 11:30 PM. The people cited above said the Indian delegation, led by Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps Lt Gen PGK Menon, particularly insisted on resolving outstanding issues in Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang.
“The two sides had a detailed exchange of views for the resolution of the remaining issues related to disengagement along the LAC in eastern Ladakh," the Army said. It was the second high-level military talks between the two sides after disengagement of troops in the Pangong lake areas in eastern Ladakh in February.
“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 statement said. In this context, the Army said it was also highlighted that completion of disengagement in other areas would pave the way for the two sides to consider de-escalation of forces and ensure full restoration of peace and tranquillity and enable progress in bilateral relations.
“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," it added. “They also agreed to jointly maintain stability on the ground, avoid any new incidents and jointly maintain peace in the border areas," the statement said.
The border standoff between the armies of India and China erupted on May 5 last following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas and both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry. As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed withdrawal of troops and weapons from the North and South banks of Pangong lake in February in line with an agreement on disengagement. India has been insisting that a resolution of outstanding issues including in Depsang, Hot Springs and Gogra is essential for overall ties between the two countries.
Late last month, Army chief General MM Naravane said the threat to India has only “abated" following the disengagement in the Pangong lake areas, but it has not gone away altogether.