(TibetanReview.net, Aug16’23) – The 19th Corps Commander-level talks between the armed forces of India and China held at the Chushul border meeting point in Eastern Ladakh over Aug 14-15 ended in the way most of the previous rounds with better outcomes did. There was a joint statement after the talks and it said the dialogue was “positive, constructive and in-depth”. But there was no breakthrough in terms of disengagement of troops on the two sides even as China continues to be in occupation of additional areas it reportedly captures in 2020.
There was yet again no concrete breakthrough in resolving the festering troop face-offs at Depsang Plains and Demchok in eastern Ladakh despite the latest round of top-level military talks being held with China after a gap of almost four months, said the timesofindia.com Aug 15.
The talks came ahead of Indian Prime Minister Modi & Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Johannesburg for BRICS Summit later this month, to be followed by latter’s visit to India for G20 Summit in September.
This was the first time the two sides held talks that lasted for two days. The joint statement said the two sides had a positive, constructive and in-depth discussion on the resolution of the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector.
“They agreed to resolve the remaining issues in an expeditious manner and maintain the momentum of dialogue and negotiations through military and diplomatic channels. In the interim, the two sides agreed to maintain the peace and tranquility on the ground in the border areas,” said the joint statement.
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Despite disengagement from the Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso, Gogra (PP-17A) and Hot Springs (PP-15) after previous talks, the Indian and Chinese armies continue to maintain tens of thousands of troops and equipment along the LAC.
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 legacy ones such as those over Depsang Plains and Demchok.
There has not been any significant forward movement in the last few rounds of military talks on resolving the pre-2020 issues of Depsang Plains and Demchok or on a de-escalation of troops in the Ladakh region, noted the indianexpress.com Aug 16.
On Depsang, the two sides failed to make any headway, but agreed to freeze build-up of troops and equipment along the LAC during round of talks, noted theprint.in Aug 15.
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The last major development was in September last year when both sides pulled back troops to disengage from Patrolling Point-15 in the Gogra-Hot Springs area of eastern Ladakh, said the indianexpress.com report.
Currently, with the no-patrol buffer zones varying from 3km to 10km coming up largely on Indian territory after disengagement in areas like Pangong Tso – Kailash range, Galwan Valley and Gogra-Hot Springs, Indian troops can no longer access 26 of their 65 patrolling points that begin from the Karakoram Pass to Chumar in eastern Ladakh, noted another timesofindia.com report Aug 15.
The platitudes in the joint statement on Aug 15 were made after the earlier rounds as well. But the fact remains that the People’s Liberation Army continues to block Indian soldiers at the “Bottleneck” or “Y-junction” area in the Depsang Plains, around 18-km inside what India considers its own territory, from going to their traditional patrolling points (PPs) 10, 11, 11A, 12, and 13.
China, in fact, claims as much as 972 square km of territory in the region, which is quite near to its critical Western Highway G-219 connecting Tibet to Xinjiang, said the timesofindia.com report Aug 15.
Apart from relentlessly strengthening its military positions and building new infrastructure all along the LAC over the last three years, China has also upped the ante along the Sikkim-Arunachal Pradesh frontier. This led to a clash between the rival troops at Yangtse in the Tawang sector on Dec 9, the report said.