Ladakh standoff: India, China to hold 15th round of Corps Commander talks on March 11

India and China will hold the 15th round of Corps Commander-level discussions on March 11 to try and resolve the balance friction areas in eastern Ladakh, according to sources.

Sources in the defence establishment said the 15th round of talks will be held at the Indian side of the Chushul-Moldo Border Personnel Meeting point. Lieutenant General Anindya Sengupta, who took over as the commander of XIV Corps responsible for the LAC in Ladakh, will lead the delegation. Lt Gen Sengupta had taken over as the Corps Commander just days ahead of the 14th round of talks, but had been part of discussions since the previous round in October too.

“Both sides will now focus to achieve resolution of balance friction areas. Recent statements by both sides to find a mutually acceptable solution have been encouraging and positive in nature,” said a source.

The last round of discussions between the Corps Commanders took place in January, but it did not result in any breakthrough. However, the two sides said in a joint statement that they would meet again soon. Going into the last round of talks, India was hoping for a resolution of  Patrolling Point (PP) 15. In July last year, the two sides agreed to pull back their troops from PP17A near Gogra Post.

As of now, China has a platoon-sized strength of troops on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at PP15 at Hot Springs. Chinese troops are blocking Indian soldiers from accessing their traditional patrolling limits at PP10, PP11, PP11A, PP12 and PP13 in Depsang Plains, which is close to India’s strategic Daulat Beg Oldie base in the north.

Also, some so-called Chinese civilians have pitched tents on the Indian side of the LAC in Demchok, and have refused to vacate.

A recent statement by China’s Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi has been viewed positively by sections of the Indian security establishment. At a press conference in Beijing on March 7, Wang said that the relations between the two countries “have encountered some setbacks in recent years, which do not serve the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two peoples.”

“As we have seen, some forces have always sought to stoke tension between China and India and division between regions. Their attempts have put more and more thoughtful people in reflection and on alert. More people have come to realise that for China and India, both major countries with a population of over a billion, only by staying independent can we firmly grasp our own destiny and realise our goals of development and rejuvenation.”

He said about the “boundary question left over from history,” China has “all along advocated managing differences through equal-footed consultation, actively seeking a fair and equitable settlement, and meanwhile not letting it affect or interfere with the bigger picture of bilateral cooperation.”

“We hope,” Wang said, “that India will work with China to uphold the strategic consensus that our two countries pose no threat but offer development opportunities to each other” and “continue to build mutual trust, avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation so that we will be partners for mutual success instead of adversaries of mutual attrition.” The two countries must “make sure that our relationship moves forward on the right track, bring more benefits to our peoples and make a greater contribution to the region and the world,” he said.

Earlier, both sides disengaged from the north and south banks of Pangong Tso, including the Kailash range heights in the Chushul sub-sector, and from PP14 in Galwan Valley, which had seen violent clashes in June 2020, resulting in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese soldiers.

India and China have over 50,000 troops each in the region, in the depth areas, along with additional air defence assets, tanks, artillery and other weapons. The standoff will complete two years in May.

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