Top Chinese and Indian generals are holding a meet at a Himalayan outpost on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in a bid to end the latest frontier showdown in eastern Ladakh that has seen thousands of troops sent to both sides.
The Indian delegation of officials is led by Lt Gen Harinder Singh, the commander of 14 Corps, along with 10 other officers who were part of the earlier meetings with the Chinese counterparts, while the Chinese military is represented by Major General Lin Liu, Corps Commander, South Xinjiang Military Division and 10 other officers from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The talks, which started around 11am, are being held at Chushul-Moldo Border meeting point. This comes a day after the foreign ministry officials of both nations on Friday discussed the flaring of tensions on the disputed border.
They resolved to settle the differences peacefully, “bearing in mind the importance of respecting each other’s sensitivities, concerns and aspirations and not allow them to become disputes”, the external affairs ministry said in a statement.
The Indian side is expected to present specific proposals at the talks to de-escalate tension in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley and Demchok - the three areas in eastern Ladakh where the two sides have been on a bitter standoff for the last one month, the sources said.
It is not immediately known what will be the proposals that the Indian military will take to the negotiating table but it is understood that it will insist on return to status quo in all the areas. The two sides have already held at least 10 rounds of negotiations between local commanders as well as major general-rank officials of the two armies but the talks did not yield any positive result, they said.
The trigger for the face-off was China's stiff opposition to India laying a key road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso Lake besides construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.
After the standoff began early last month, the Indian military leadership decided that Indian troops will adopt a firm approach dealing with the aggressive posturing by the Chinese troops in all disputed areas of Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie.
The Chinese Army is learnt to have deployed around 2,500 troops in Pangong Tso and Galwan Valley besides gradually enhancing temporary infrastructure and weaponry. India has also been bolstering its presence by sending additional troops and artillery guns, the sources said.
Since the clashes earlier last month, there have been multiple reports of intrusions by Chinese infantry soldiers in areas which include Demchok to the South, the Fingers region on the Eastern banks of the high-altitude Pangong Lake, the Galwan River basin and more recently the Gogra post.
India says the Chinese military is hindering normal patrolling by its troops along the Line of Actual Control or LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim, and strongly refutes Beijing's contention that the escalating tension between the two armies was triggered by trespassing of Indian forces across the Chinese side.