NEW DELHI: Talks between senior military commanders of India and China are underway to discuss a second, more complex phase of disengagement and deescalation along the Line of Actual Control where tensions have been running high due to the amassing of tens of thousands of troops and a violent clash that killed soldiers of both sides last month.
The meeting between the Indian Army’s 14 Corps Commander Lieutenant General Harinder Singh and his Chinese counterpart Major General Lin Liu, commander of the South Xinjiang Military District, began a little past 1130 am, the scheduled time to start the discussions, a person in the know of the matter said.
The two officers have met thrice before — 6 June, 22 June and 30 June. The talks this time, like on 30 June, is taking place at Chushul, on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
According to analysts, Tuesday’s talks were expected to be some of the most complex and challenging given that the two commanders are to negotiate a pullback of troops from the Pangong Tso Lake region as well as the Depsang Plains. In both areas, Chinese troops have made deep ingresses into what is regarded by India as its territory.
The two commanders are also expected to focus on a pullback of troops and equipment — air defence radars, tanks, artillery units and air support — from areas immediately adjacent to the LAC. China had mobilized troops and heavy weaponry at the LAC in late April-early May at the start of tensions with India. On its part, India too had quickly mobilized its troops to match the Chinese deployment.
Last week, troops of both countries pulled back from three friction points—PP (patrolling point) 14,15 and 17A, creating a buffer zone of 3-4 km depth. This was done to ensure that troops who are separated at some points along the LAC by only 600 metres or less do not engage with each other. It came after a violent clash between the two sides on 15 June that led to the death of 20 Indian Army personnel and an unknown number of Chinese troops . The casualties were the first in 45 years. Ties between the two countries have deteriorated rapidly due to the tensions.