India and China today held the ninth round of senior commanders’ talks in a fresh bid to resolve the military standoff at eastern Ladakh.
India is believed to have insisted on setting in motion at the earliest the process of disengagement and de-escalation of troops by the two countries to restore peace and tranquility in border areas.
The talks were held at Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The Indian delegation was headed by Lt Gen P G K Menon, the General Officer Commanding of the Leh based 14 Corps which is in-charge of the security of Ladakh, sources said.
The last round of talks between the military commanders was held in November last year while senior diplomats of the two countries met on 18 December under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Coordination and Consultation (WMCC) in border areas.
The two sides then were said to be seriously considering the possibility of a phased mutual withdrawal of troops and equipment ranged against each other at eastern Ladakh for the last eight months. But there has been no progress on the proposal since then.
So far, the two sides have agreed to ensure they do not move more troops to the frontline and that they would “refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground.”
Chief of the Army staff, Gen M M Naravane had recently stated that the Indian Army was prepared to hold its positions for as long as it took to achieve “national objec-tives”. He had also indicated some redeployment of troops and strike elements from present positions to the northern border.
Tensions between the two countries began in April-May last year when New Delhi detected incursions by Chinese troops in Ladakh along with a massive deployment of Chinese military personnel. India too quickly moved in its troops to counter further incursions. Previous rounds of military talks have failed to yield any consensus on the pull back of troops, with both sides having some 50,000 personnel each along the LAC.
Relations between the two countries plummeted to a new low following a violent clash between their troops at the Galwan valley on 15 June, resulting in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of casualties on the Chinese side.