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In military commander talks, India tells China to restore status quo ante

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oi-Vicky Nanjappa

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Published: Tuesday, 13 October 2020, 9:18 [IST]

New Delhi, October 13: India has insisted on restoring the status quo before April and the comprehensive withdrawal of troops from China from all points of contention in eastern Ladakh to resolve the border blockade, government sources said, as the two countries held the seventh round of military talks.

Corps commander-level talks began around 12 noon in Chushul on the Indian side of the Current Control Line (LAC) in eastern Ladakh and continued beyond 8:30 PM, they said.

In military commander talks, India tells China to restore status quo ante

As the border blockade entered its sixth month, an early resolution of the line seemed dim with about 100,000 Indian and Chinese troops remaining stationed in the high-altitude region and showing readiness for a long distance.

There is still no official word on the talks, but sources said the agenda was to complete a roadmap for removing troops from all points of friction.

The Indian delegation is led by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, Commander of the 14 Leh-based Corps, and includes Naveen Srivastava, Joint Secretary (East Asia) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MEA). It is learned that a Chinese foreign ministry official is also part of the Chinese delegation.

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Sources said India was pushing for an early and complete secession of troops from China from all points of friction in addition to the demand for immediate restoration of the status quo ante in all areas of eastern Ladakh before April. The stalemate began on May 5th.

The China Study Group (CSG) consisting of Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Defense Chief of Staff General Bipin Rawat and three service chiefs on Friday finalized the strategy. India for military talks. CSG is the main body of India’s policy for China.

Ahead of the talks, sources said India would also strongly oppose any request from China to withdraw Indian troops from some strategic heights on the southern shore of Lake Pangong to begin the secession process.

During the Sixth Round of Corps Commander Talks on September 21, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) insisted on withdrawing troops from the Indian Army from several strategic heights in the Mukhpari, Rezang La and Magar hills around the southern shore of Lake Pangong .

Indian troops had occupied strategic heights as PLA soldiers tried to intimidate them on the south shore of Lake Pangong on the night between August 29 and 30.

India has claimed that the disconnection process should start simultaneously at all points of friction.

In talks, the two sides were expected to further consider steps to maintain stability on the ground and to avoid any action that could cause new tension in the region where troops from the Indian Army and PLA will face difficult conditions in four months. next because of the harsh winter, sources said.

After the sixth round of military talks, the two sides announced a number of decisions including not sending more troops to the front line, refraining from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground and avoiding any action that could further complicate beyond issues.

The military talks took place with a specific agenda to explore ways to implement a five-point agreement reached between Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at a meeting in Moscow on September 10 on the outskirts of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization conclave. (SCO).

The pact included measures such as the rapid disengagement of troops, the avoidance of actions that could escalate tensions, adherence to all border management agreements and protocols, and steps to restore peace along the LAC.

Days after the military talks, the two sides held diplomatic talks under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border issues, but no concrete results emerged from the negotiations on 30 September.

Following the diplomatic talks, the MEA said it had been agreed that the next round of the summit of senior commanders should be held at an early date so that both sides could work towards an early and complete disengagement of troops along the LAC in in accordance with existing bilateral agreements and protocols.

Naveen Srivastava, who has led the Indian side in the WMCC talks, also attended the military parley on September 21 for the first time.

This is the last round of talks between Lieutenant General Singh and the PLA in the current confrontation as he will take over as head of the prestigious Indian Military Academy (IMA) this week. His successor in the 14 Corporations Lieutenant General PGK Menon is also part of the Indian delegation.

In the previous six rounds of military talks, the Indian side insisted on the complete disengagement of Chinese troops as soon as possible and the immediate restoration of the status quo ante in all areas of eastern Ladakh before April.

The situation in eastern Ladakh worsened after at least three attempts by Chinese soldiers to “scare” Indian troops along the north and south shores of the Pangong Lake area between August 29 and September 8, where they were even fired into the air for the first time at LAC in 45 years.

As tensions escalated further, the foreign ministers of India and China held talks in Moscow on September 10 where they reached a five-point agreement to ease the situation in eastern Ladakh. The agreement was the basis for the sixth round of Corps commander-level talks.

In the last three months, the Indian Army has rushed tanks, heavy weapons, ammunition, fuel, food and essential winter supplies to various treacherous and high-altitude areas of the region to maintain combat readiness during the harsh winter of about four months running started around mid-October.

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