With military tensions showing no signs of subsiding along the country’s northern borders, India and China are set to hold the seventh round of their corps commander-level dialogue in eastern Ladakh on Monday to reduce friction in the sensitive theatre, officials familiar with the developments said on Sunday.
The talks are expected to begin at 9.30 am in Chushul on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the officials said. The Indian side will demand comprehensive disengagement at all flashpoints and restoration of status quo ante of early April, the officials said.
The two nuclear powers have been locked in a border dispute for more than five months, with several rounds of diplomatic and military talks failing to produce a breakthrough in reducing border tensions in the sector where both armies have made arrangements for a long haul through the winter months.
The latest military talks will take place weeks after China hardened its position and asserted that it recognises the 1959 LAC, which was never accepted by India. China’s hardened stance has dimmed hopes for an early resolution of the border row, as reported by HT on October 5.
China’s assertion that it abides by the LAC as proposed by Premier Zhou Enlai to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959 has complicated the border row in eastern Ladakh, and called into question Beijing’s intent to restore status quo ante and de-escalate the conflict.
Experts said it was important to find a resolution to the dispute through talks. “Both countries have said at various levels that they don’t want to escalate the conflict and find a solution through talks. So, talks at both military and diplomatic levels have to continue to find a methodology to disengage and deescalate,” said National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) member Lieutenant General SL Narasimhan (retd).
Monday’s dialogue will be the last round of military talks to be led by the current commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, Lieutenant General Harinder Singh.
Singh, who has completed his one-year term, is heading to Dehradun on October 15 as the commandant of the Indian Military Academy. He is being replaced by Lieutenant General PGK Menon, who had also attended the previous round of military talks on September 21.
At the September 21 talks, Indian negotiators firmly demanded comprehensive disengagement at all friction areas and restoration of status quo ante as the only approach towards de-escalation. On the other hand, China asked India to withdraw its soldiers from strategic heights on the southern bank of Pangong Tso to reduce friction.
According to a joint statement, released in New Delhi and Beijing on September 22, the two sides agreed to stop sending more troops to the front line, and to “take practical measures to properly solve problems on the ground, and jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in the border area.”