India and China today held the 10th round of military talks to de-escalate tension at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a day after completing the first round of disengagement at the Pangong Tso Lake in Eastern Ladakh.
The talks, held at Moldo on the Chinese side, were led by Lt Gen P G K Menon, Commander of 14 Corps based in Leh, on the Indian side. The Indian delegation also included Naveen Srivastav, Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the External Affairs Ministry.
The military commanders of the two countries are believed to have discussed disengagement at other friction points like Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang plains.
The Indian side is learnt to have insisted that the status quo ante that existed in April- May last year must be restored in the larger interest of peace and tranquility in border areas.
Official sources also said India will insist on a faster disengagement process in remaining areas like Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang to bring down tension in the region that has witnessed a tense standoff between the two militaries for over nine months.
The representatives of the two sides also reviewed the first phase of disengagement at northern and southern banks of the Pangong Tso Lake as part of an agreement reached between them. The Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) teams are said to be physically verifying and re-verifying disengagement at Pangong Tso Lake. The agreement on disengagement was announced by China on 10 February and subsequently confirmed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on the floor of Parliament.
The agreement states that Chinese troops will move back to Finger 8 and Indian troops will pull back to the Dhan Singh Thapa post between Finger 2 and 3 of the north bank of the Pangong Lake. Further, there would be a temporary moratorium on military activities, including patrolling to the traditional areas.
In his statement in Parliament, the defence minister also said that it was agreed to convene the next meeting of senior commanders of both sides within 48 hours of completion of the disengagement in the Pangong lake areas so as to resolve all other remaining issues.
Days later, the Defence Ministry said other outstanding “problems” including in Depsang, Hot Springs and Gogra will be taken up at the upcoming talks between military commanders of the two countries.
Ahead of the 10th round of talks, the Chinese military released on social media a video of the 15 June Galwan Valley clash between Indian and Chinese troops while blaming the Indian side for the incident. However, it did acknowledge for the first time that the PLA had lost four of its troops in the Galwan Valley incident though Russia and Western media say nearly 45 Chinese soldiers died in the clash. India had lost 20 of its brave soldiers in the incident. India has so far not reacted to the Chinese video or its claim of losing four soldiers in the clash.
The border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5 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 even as the two sides continued military and diplomatic talks.
Last year, the Chinese military built several bunkers and other structures in the areas between Finger 4 and 8 and had blocked all Indian patrols beyond Finger 4, triggering strong reaction from the Indian Army.