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India, China mulling withdrawal of troops from Gogra in Ladakh

The final decision on withdrawal of troops from Patrolling Point (PP) 17A in Gogra would be taken up by the top brass of the military and diplomatic hierarchy.

IANS | New Delhi |

India and China are working on a proposal to withdraw troops from a friction point in Gogra at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh in the next few days. It could be a significant step towards resolving the continuing border crisis.

The final decision on withdrawal of troops from Patrolling Point (PP) 17A in Gogra would be taken up by the top brass of the military and diplomatic hierarchy.

Both the countries are also evaluating the interim arrangements suggested during the 12 rounds of the Corp Commander-level meeting on July 31.

In a joint statement of the 12th Round of India-China Corps commander level meeting, it was said that the two sides also agreed that in the interim they will continue their effective efforts in ensuring stability along the LAC in the Western Sector and jointly maintain peace and tranquillity.

On July 31, India and China military delegates deliberated for almost nine hours to resolve the border crisis at Moldo in the Ladakh region.

The Indian Army stated that this round of meetings was held following the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of India and the People’s Republic of China on July 14 in Dushanbe and the 22nd meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) held on June 25.

“The two sides had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on resolution of remaining areas related to disengagement along the Line of Actual Control in the Western Sector of India-China border areas,” said Indian Army in the statement.

The force further stated that the two sides noted that this round of meetings was constructive, which further enhanced mutual understanding. They agreed to resolve the remaining issues in an expeditious manner in accordance with the existing agreements and protocols and maintain the momentum of dialogue and negotiations.

The talks between the two countries happened after a gap of three months. Indian military delegates discussed disengagement at friction areas like Hot Springs, Gogra and 900 square km Depsang plains.

The Indian delegation was led by Leh-based XIV Corps chief Lt Gen P.G.K. Menon and Additional Secretary (East Asia) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Naveen Srivastava.

The Chinese military delegation was led by Commander of the PLA’s Western Theatre Command Xu Qiling, who was appointed earlier this month.

The build-up in Depsang was not being considered part of the current standoff that started in May last year as that escalation took place in 2013. India has insisted during recent military commander meetings to resolve all issues along the LAC.

In April, during the 11th round of Corps Commander-level talk, the focus was also on disengagement on friction points at Gogra, Hot Springs and Depsang. Till now, apart from 12 rounds of Corps Commanders-level talks, the two forces have also held 10 Major Generals level, 55 Brigadiers-level talks and 1,450 calls over the hotlines.

So far, the troops of the two Himalayan giants have disengaged from both the banks of Pangong Tso in February this year.