India on Saturday pressed for an early disengagement of troops and weapons in Hot Springs, Gogra and other remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh during the 12th round of military talks with China that lasted for around nine hours, sources in the security establishment said. Both sides held detailed deliberation and the talks were comprehensive, they said without elaborating further. There was no official comment on the outcome of the meeting that took place at the Moldo border point on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh amid expectations of a breakthrough in the disengagement process in Gogra and Hot Springs.
It is learnt that both sides discussed "specific details to cool tempers in the remaining friction points including moving ahead with the disengagement process and agreed to jointly maintain stability on the ground". The talks started at 10:30 AM and ended at 7:30 PM, sources said.
The Indian side forcefully pressed for early resolution of the standoff and particularly insisted on expeditious disengagement in Hot Springs and Gogra, a source said. Ahead of the talks, sources said India was hopeful of a positive outcome on the disengagement process.
India has been insisting that the resolution of the outstanding issues, including at Depsang, Hot Springs and Gogra, is essential for the overall ties between the two countries. The latest round of talks took place after a gap of more than three and a half months. The 11th round of military dialogue had taken place on April 9 at the Chushul border point on the Indian side of the LAC and it lasted for around 13 hours. The 12th round of military talks took place over two weeks after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar firmly conveyed to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that the prolongation of the existing situation in eastern Ladakh was visibly impacting the bilateral ties in a "negative manner".
The two foreign ministers had held a one-hour bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a conclave of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Tajik capital city Dushanbe on July 14. In the meeting, Jaishankar had told Wang that any unilateral change in the status quo along the LAC was "not acceptable" to India and that the overall ties can only develop after full restoration of peace and tranquillity in eastern Ladakh.
In the last round of military talks, both sides discussed ways to take forward the disengagement process in Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang with a larger aim to bring down tensions in the region. However, there was no forward movement in the disengagement process. The Indian delegation at Saturday's talks was led by Lt Gen PGK Menon, the Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps.
The border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted in May last year 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 the withdrawal of troops and weapons from the North and South banks of Pangong lake in February in line with an agreement on disengagement.
Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the LAC in the sensitive sector.