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Army readies for long winter haul as India, China hold 5th round of Corps Commander-level talks

Meanwhile, the Indian Army is preparing for a long haul and harsh winter in the high-altitude region. A massive logistical exercise has started to provide adequate rations and other supplies to its soldiers as the friction areas still remain volatile.

SNS | New Delhi |

The military delegates of India and China are holding fifth round of Corps Commander-level talks on Sunday. During the talks, the Indian side likely to focus on complete withdrawal of PLA troops from Pangong Lake and Depsang area, in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), according to reports.

The talks are being held in Moldo on the Chinese side of LAC. The first and second meetings were also held in Moldo. While, the fourth round of talks were held at Chushul on the Indian side.

China had reportedly not complied with the roadmap for a complete pullback, which was drawn out during the Corps Commander-level meet on July 14. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops have not moved back.

Meanwhile, the Indian Army is preparing for a long haul and harsh winter in the high-altitude region. A massive logistical exercise has started to provide adequate rations and other supplies to its soldiers as the friction areas still remain volatile.

”We now need more of everything, clothing for individual soldiers, shoes, and additional stocks for everyone,”senior government sources were quoted by NDTV as saying.

“To this end, four foreign vendors have been identified with the bulk of the stocking expected to have been completed by November. At the moment, the Army is also looking to stock other basic provisions – ”rations, kerosene and F.O.L (Fuel, Oil and Lubricant) stocking is well underway,” said the sources.

The Indian security establishments had said that the Chinese retreated a bit and then returned and therefore, there is a need for “constant verification” of the consensus achieved during the meetings between the Indian and Chinese military delegates.

It has been found that the Indian and Chinese troops have pulled back at Pangong Lake by 2 km and Finger 4 is empty. However, the Chinese are still camping on the ridge line. This clearly indicates that the Chinese had camped at Finger 4 that had traditionally been under the Indian control.

The Chinese had come 8 km into the Indian territory, all the way till Finger 4 from Finger 8. India maintains that the LAC runs through Finger 8. Mountain spurs jutting into the lake are referred to as fingers.

In Galwan Valley, which is called Patrolling Point 14, distance between Indian and Chinese troops is 3 km. At Patrolling Point 15, the distance between troops is around 8 km.

But in Hot Springs, that is Patrolling Point 17, 40-50 troops on both sides are just 600-800 meters apart. The Chinese Army had retreated as per the consensus, but again returned.

India in a statement had said on Thursday that the process of disengagement of troops in eastern Ladakh has not yet been completed though some progress has been made. While China claims that frontline forces of the two countries have “completed” this exercise at most locations along their border, reported NDTV.

Both the countries are engaged in military and diplomatic deliberation to de-escalate the tense situation at the border areas.

India and China are locked in twelve-week-long standoff at multiple points along the border.

Meanwhile, on July 10, India and China resolved to ensure complete disengagement of troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquility between them in accordance with bilateral agreements and protocols.

The reaffirmation came at the 16th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs (WMCC) held Friday afternoon. The Indian delegation was led by Naveen Srivastava, Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), while the Director General of the Boundary and Oceanic Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs led his country’s delegation.

The two sides recalled the agreement reached between the two foreign ministers on 17 June as well as the agreement between two Special Representatives (SRs) during their telephonic conversation on 5 July.

The two sides also agreed that for the overall development of bilateral relations it was essential to maintain enduring peace and tranquility in the border areas, the MEA said in a statement.

The two sides also agreed to maintain the ongoing communication both at the diplomatic and military level to ensure early resolution of the situation. In this context, they agreed to hold another meeting of the WMCC in the near future.

Speaking of the past engagements, the third Corps Commander-level meeting between the two sides was held on June 30 which went on for for almost 12 hours wherein India put out a strong message that PLA troops had not abided by the disengagement consensus.

Following the third round of talks, visible disengagement was witnessed at the borders. The disengagement process between Indian and Chinese armies at three friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh — Patrolling Point 14, Patrolling Point 15 and Patrolling Point 17 — was completed on July 9.

The Chinese troops pulled back by around 2 kilometres in the at Patrolling Point 17 in Hot Springs area.

Also, the Chinese PLA had reportedly started thinning out in the contentious Finger area near the Pangong lake in Ladakh.

The disengagement process between the two armies in the Galwan valley began on July 6 after a two-month military standoff.

The Indian Army also moved back from these areas by almost an equal distance from areas which were its patrolling points till May first week when the Chinese started building up along the LAC.

With the retreat by both sides, a four kilometre no-man zone has been created.

The mutual agreement on disengagement came after a key phone call between Chinese Foreign Minister, State Councillor and Special Representative on the Sino-Indian Boundary Issue Wang Yi and Indian National Security Advisor and Special Representative Ajit Doval on July 5.

Both the countries noted that it was necessary to ensure at the earliest complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquillity and also agreed that the two sides should not allow differences to become disputes.

The two sides also agreed to ensure a phased and stepwise de-escalation in the India-China border areas.

They re-affirmed that both sides should strictly respect and observe the LAC and should not take any unilateral action to alter the status quo and work together to avoid any incident in the future that could disturb peace and tranquillity in border areas.

The first and second military meeting was on June 6 and June 22 respectively, which were claimed to be held in a “cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere”, had not yielded any results.

The unprecedented violent clash between the two armies that killed 20 Indian Army personnel on June 15 happened after the first round of talks.

After the second meeting, Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops defied the agreed mutual consensus to disengage and returned to Patrolling Post 14 on the Line of Actual Control in Galwan valley. The PLA had even reportedly set up tents and an observation point exactly where it was on June 15.