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India and China not to take provocative actions during winter months as LAC talks stalemate continues

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(TibetanReview.net, Oct13’23) – India and China held their 20th round of Corps Commander-level talks to defuse tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, with no immediate resolution being reached. The meeting was held at the Moldo-Chushul border meeting point on the Indian side over Oct 9-10.

Both the sides have issued separate but more or less similarly upbeat statements after the talks. However China’s official media praised Beijing’s unyielding border stance in the face of what it sees as India’s strategic drift toward US. And the Indian media noted that the talks had failed to defuse or de-escalate the border tensions.

The two sides had a positive, in-depth and constructive discussion on resolving the remaining issues along the LAC in the Western Sector in a mutually acceptable manner at the earliest possible date, China’s official globaltimes.cn Oct 13 cited the country’s Ministry of National Defense (MOD) as saying in a statement. The MOD has added that the two sides agreed to maintain the momentum of communication and dialogue through military and diplomatic channels… and to maintain the peace and tranquillity on the ground in the border areas.

The report noted that the press releases of the two sides after the latest two rounds of talks looked mostly similar, with slight differences. For example, the news release of the 20th round added “a mutually acceptable manner” when referring to future resolution, it noted.

On India’s side, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said Oct 11: “The two sides exchanged views in a frank, open and constructive manner for an early and mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in the Western Sector, in accordance with the guidance provided by the national leadership of the two countries, and building on the progress made in the last round of Corps Commanders’ Meeting held on 13-14 August 2023.”

The fact that no immediate resolution was found meant that soldiers on both sides will continue to remain deployed in forward areas along the LAC for the fourth straight winter, noted theprint.in Oct 11, citing sources in the defence and security establishment.

However, both sides have also agreed to not carry out any provocative action during the winter months and to be in close communication with each other.

The report cited sources as saying one more round of talks will be held during the winter to cater to the summer deployment plans.

Owing to the extreme climate in winters, they have said, the numbers of troops deployed in the region are scaled down by both countries with minimum troops at the front. While some are pulled back to depth areas, others move out completely. During the summer, troops are brought back into operational areas.

“The plan is to reach an understanding during the next round of talks to not bring back additional troops during summers,” one source has said.

At present, both India and China have over 50,000 troops and equipment deployed on each side. During winters, the number of deployed soldiers comes down drastically.

India has been seeking restoration of status quo as of Apr 2020 in areas which saw tensions beginning May 2020, besides resolution of earlier disagreements including those over Depsang Plains.

Friction points such as Galwan Valley, north and south banks of Pangong Tso and the Gogra-Hot Springs area have seen some resolution in the last three years with the creation of buffer zones. There is, however, yet to be any disengagement at the legacy friction points such as Depsang Plains and Demchok, noted the timesofindia.com Oct 12.

Besides, China is yet to agree to India’s demand for the sequential process of disengagement, de-escalation and de-induction of the over 50,000 troops each forward deployed by the two armies, along with surface-to-air missile systems, tanks, artillery guns and other weapon systems, along the LAC in eastern Ladakh, the report said.

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