The first phase of the disengagement process along the Line of Actual Control at the banks of the Pangong Tso was completed on Friday, a day ahead of the next round of the senior military commander-level talks, reported The Indian Express.
The 10th round of the talks, which were supposed to be conducted within 48 hours of the first phase of disengagement, will reportedly be held on the Chinese side of the Chushul-Moldo Border Personnel Meeting Point at 10 am. The meeting would focus on other friction areas, according to The Hindu.
The disengagement process along north and south banks of the Pangong Tso began on February 10, with tanks and mechanised columns being pulled back from the south bank of the lake.
The next round of talks would reportedly focus on complete disengagement from the friction points at the Gogra and Hot Springs. Some troops have pulled back at the patrolling points 15 and 17A in these two sites. However, this process stopped after the developments on the south bank of the lake at the end of August.
On Thursday, in an email interview to The Indian Express, Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General YK Joshi said that for the first time the agreement between the two countries was “put in writing, ratified by higher headquarters and then put into action”. He added that every action at the border was being verified regularly, and confirmed during flag meetings, and other means. He said this process had “no space for doubts or non-adherence” and that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army had shown “sincerity of purpose”.
India had previously patrolled on foot up to Finger 8 as there is no road access from its side to areas east of Finger 4, according to The Hindu. Meanwhile, China has dominated up to Finger 4, and has built a road there with additional logistics in place. Last year, Chinese military had prevented India from reaching Finger 8, leading to the months-long standoff between the two sides.
China on Thursday said that the disengagement between Indian and Chinese troops from Pangong Tso was proceeding smoothly. Beijing expressed confidence that the two countries will achieve the goal.
Tensions between the two countries flared up in June after deadly clashes between soldiers in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed.
China on Friday for the first time named four soldiers who died, and another, who was injured, during the clash with Indian troops in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley in June. This came eight months after China refused to disclose details of casualties in the deadly brawl with India.
The standoff has persisted with both sides bolstering forces along the border. Both India and China have accused each other of crossing into rival territory and of firing shots for the first time there in 45 years. The ninth round of Corps Commander-level talks took place on January 24.
On February 11, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told the Parliament that India and China will remove deployments along the Pangong lake in Ladakh in a phased and coordinated manner. His statement confirmed a breakthrough in talks between the two countries to ease border tensions. A day later, the Centre asserted that India had not conceded any territory to China.