New Delhi: India and China military commanders have agreed on “an expeditious, phased, step-wise de-escalation” from the face-off locations along the Ladakh borders after their third round of marathon talks that ended late last night.
This agreement was arrived at after a record-breaking over 12-hour talks at Chushul on the Indian side between Indian Army‘s Leh-headquartered 14 Corps commander Lieutenant General Harinder Singh and China’s South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin.
The outcome of the meeting yesterday was in line with the diplomatic discussions between the foreign ministers of the two countries, according to Indian Army officers.
The officers did not wish to be identified, in view of the rules that govern their interaction with the media and due to the sensitivities involved regarding the peace talks between the two armies, following a nearly two-month long military face-off along the 1,500-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
“Both sides have emphasised the need for an expeditious, phased and step-wise de-escalation as a priority,” the officers said. The meeting yesterday was long and held in a businesslike manner keeping in view the COVID-19 protocols, they said.
“The discussions reflected the commitment of both sides to reduce the tensions along the LAC. The process of disengagement along the LAC is complex and in such a context, speculative and unsubstantiated reports need to be avoided,” the Indian officers said.
This was the third senior military commander level meeting to discuss issues related to disengagement at the face-off sites along the LAC and de-escalation from the border areas. This time around, the talks exceeded 12 hours of discussion, with breaks in between for lunch and tea, ending with an elaborate dinner, officers said.
The meeting had begun at 10.30 am yesterday and went on till 11 pm, the officers said, indicating that the two sides took the tensions, between the army personnel of the two nations following the June 15 violent clash that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and an undisclosed number of Chinese military men as casualties, very seriously.
“This is in keeping with the agreement between the Indian external affairs minister and his Chinese counterpart during their conversation on June 17 that the overall situation would be handled in a responsible manner, and that both sides would implement the disengagement understanding of June 6 sincerely.”
More meetings are expected, both at the military and at the diplomatic level, in the future, to arrive at mutually agreeable solutions and to ensure peace and tranquility along the LAC, as per bilateral agreements and protocols signed since 1993.
India and China have been engaged in discussions through established military and diplomatic channels to address the situation along the LAC in India-China border areas for the last two months.
The corps commander level talks first took place on June 6, but the peace agreement was broken during de-escalation process with the Galwan Valley violence on June 15. The two commanders met again on June 22 and since then, calm has prevailed in the border areas in eastern Ladakh.
Apart from the military commanders meeting, further meetings between Major Generals, Brigadiers and Colonels and their equivalents will now take place between the two armies for discussing localised disengagement plans, based on the macro agreement between the two Lieutenant General-level officers yesterday.
Apart from the military efforts, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has also held Joint Secretary-level talks earlier on the border peace and would follow that up with an upgraded talks between either the foreign secretaries or foreign ministers of the two nations in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the Indian Army has mobilised 15,000 to 20,000 troopers to mirror the Chinese People’s Liberation Army deployment close to the LAC, including battle tanks, artillery guns, air defence guns and missiles, apart from attack helicopters and heavy lift military cargo helicopters.