Ladakh stand-off: India-China wrap up 12th round of military talks on optimistic note

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The 12th round of military talks between India and China wrapped up on a positive note amid growing hopes of reaching an understanding on the disengagement of troops from Hot Springs and Gogra on the Line of Actual Control, sources told News18.

Modalities will be worked out on how to take the process forward and a joint statement is expected on Monday, reported News18.

The meeting between corps commander-ranked officers of the Indian Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) at the Moldo border point on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh on Saturday began at 10.30 am and ended at 7.30 pm, officials familiar with the development said.

At nine hours, this was possibly the shortest round of talks between the two armies, reported Hindustan Times.

Defence establishment sources were hopeful of reaching an understanding for disengagement from Hot Springs and Gogra Post, Patrolling Point (PP) 15 and PP17A, respectively, friction points.

It is learnt that both sides discussed "specific details to cool tempers in the remaining friction points including moving ahead with the disengagement process and agreed to jointly maintain stability on the ground".

Hotline set up between army HQs

A hotline was established between Indian Army in Kongra La, North Sikkim and PLA at Khamba Dzong in Tibetan Autonomous Region to further the spirit of trust and cordial relations along the borders. The event coincided with the PLA Day on 1 August, said the Indian Army.

These hotlines in various sectors go a long way in enhancing the same and maintaining peace and tranquility at the borders, the army said.

The inauguration was attended by ground commanders of the respective armies and a message of friendship and harmony was exchanged through the hotline.

What did India say?

The Indian side forcefully pressed for early resolution of the standoff and particularly insisted on expeditious disengagement in Hot Springs and Gogra, a source said.

Ahead of the talks, sources said India was hopeful of a positive outcome on the disengagement process.

India has been insisting that the resolution of the outstanding issues, including at Depsang, Hot Springs and Gogra, is essential for the overall ties between the two countries.

The latest round of talks took place after a gap of more than three and a half months. The 11th round of military dialogue had taken place on 9 April at the Chushul border point on the Indian side of the LAC and it lasted for around 13 hours.

The 12th round of military talks took place over two weeks after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar firmly conveyed to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that the prolongation of the existing situation in eastern Ladakh was visibly impacting the bilateral ties in a "negative manner".

The two foreign ministers had held a one-hour bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a conclave of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Tajik capital city Dushanbe on 14 July. In the meeting, Jaishankar had told Wang that any unilateral change in the status quo along the LAC was "not acceptable" to India and that the overall ties can only develop after full restoration of peace and tranquillity in eastern Ladakh.

In the last round of military talks, both sides discussed ways to take forward the disengagement process in Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang with a larger aim to bring down tensions in the region. However, there was no forward movement in the disengagement process.

The Indian delegation at Saturday's talks was led by Lt Gen PGK Menon, the Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps.

The border stand-off between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted in May last year following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas and both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.

As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the withdrawal of troops and weapons from the North and South banks of Pangong lake in February in line with an agreement on disengagement.

Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the LAC in the sensitive sector.

With inputs from PTI

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