On Sunday, India pressed for an early disengagement of troops in the remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh at the 13th round of military talks with China that lasted for around eight-and-half hours, sources in the security establishment said.
It is learnt that a major focus of the Corps Commander-level talks was to complete the stalled disengagement at Patrolling Point 15 (PP-15).
There was no official comment on the negotiations that took place on the Chinese side of the Chushul-Moldo border point in eastern Ladakh.
The talks, which started at 10:30 AM and ended at 7:00 PM, took place over two months after the last round of negotiations that resulted in the disengagement of troops from Gogra (Patrol Point-17A).
India has been insisting that the resolution of outstanding issues in all friction points including in Depsang is essential for an overall improvement in ties between the two countries.
The Indian delegation is understood to have conveyed this view firmly at the 13th round of talks while pressing for bringing down tensions at Depsang.
The talks took place in the backdrop of two recent incidents of attempted transgressions by the Chinese troops – one in the Barahoti sector of Uttarakhand and another in the Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh.
Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a brief face-off near Yangtse in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh around 10 days back and it was resolved within a few hours following talks between commanders of the two sides as per established protocols.
Close to 100 soldiers of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) transgressed the LAC in the Barahoti sector of Uttarakhand on August 30 and returned from the area after spending a few hours.
The two sides held the 12th round of talks on July 31. Days later, the two armies completed the disengagement process in Gogra, which was seen as a significant forward movement towards the restoration of peace and tranquillity in the region.
The Indian delegation at Sunday’s talks was led by Lt Gen PGK Menon, the Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps.
On Saturday, Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane had said if the Chinese military continues with its large-scale deployment in the eastern Ladakh region, then the Indian Army too will maintain its strength on its side which he said is “as good as what the PLA has done.”
The border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5 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 disengagement process in the Gogra area in August.
In February, the two sides completed the withdrawal of troops and weapons from the north and south banks of the Pangong lake in line with an agreement on disengagement.
Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the sensitive sector.