India-China Commander Level Talks: “More Positives, to Meet Again Soon” say Joint Statement

NEW DELHI, Jan 25: The ninth round of military commander level talks between The Indian and the Chinese army ended on Sunday in a more positive note and with the promise to hold the next round at the earliest to jointly advance de-escalation of troops along the borders when frontline soldiers are deployed eyeball to eyeball at friction points on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) agreed to push for an early disengagement of their frontline troops at frictions areas on the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh during the ninth round of military talks held at Moldo on the Chinese side of the LAC on Sunday which lasted for more than 16 hours.

India and China had a “candid and in-depth exchange of views” on disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and both sides agreed to hold the 10th round at an early date to “jointly” advance de-escalation.

“The two sides agreed that this round of meeting was positive, practical and constructive, which further enhanced mutual trust and understanding. The two sides agreed to push for an early disengagement of the frontline troops. They also agreed to follow the important consensus of their state leaders, maintain the good momentum of dialogue and negotiation, and hold the 10th round of the Corps Commander level meeting at an early date to jointly advance de-escalation,” the two sides said in a joint statement issued on Monday.

“The two sides agreed to continue their effective efforts in ensuring the restraint of the frontline troops, stabilize and control the situation along the LAC in the western sector of the China-India border, and jointly maintain peace and tranquillity,” the joint statement said.

The ninth round of talks was held after a gap of more than two and half months after the eighth round of talks held on November 6 with around 50,000 troops deployed in the region along with additional artillery, tanks, and air defence assets.

India has consistently pushed for comprehensive disengagement at all flashpoints and restoration of status quo ante of early April 2020 during the ongoing military talks. Until now, the Chinese side was insisting that the Indian Army first pull back troops deployed on strategic heights on the southern bank of Pangong Tso.

India has made all preparations to hold ground in Ladakh for an extended duration. On January 12, Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said the Indian Army was prepared to hold its ground in eastern Ladakh “for as long as it takes” to achieve national objectives in case the ongoing military and diplomatic talks with China are prolonged.

On Sunday, the Indian delegation was led by Lt Gen P G K Menon, XIV Corps Commander, which is responsible for the LAC in eastern Ladakh, and included another senior military officer from Delhi. Naveen Srivastava, Additional Secretary (East Asia) in the Ministry of External Affairs, was also present.

This is the fourth time that Srivastava, who has been leading the Indian side in meetings of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC), was part of the military discussions. The Chinese delegation was led by Major General Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang Military Region.

(Manas Dasgupta)

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