New Delhi: India and China on Friday held the eighth round of corps commanders-level talks on the six-month military standoff in eastern Ladakh. The meeting started at 9.30 am at Chushul in eastern Ladakh and ended at around 7 pm. This was the first meeting under the new commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, Lt. Gen. P.G.K. Menon. The earlier meetings were headed on the Indian side by Lt. Gen. Harinder Singh, who is now the commandant of the Indian Military Academy.
There was no official word yet on the outcome, but India has maintained that China must disengage completely from all flashpoints in eastern Ladakh. India will only accept complete disengagement by the Chinese PLA and restoration of the status quo of April 2020 at the LAC. India had earlier rejected a Chinese proposal to move back tanks and artillery from the forward positions. India’s position is that it was China which had first moved its troops at the LAC, and China will have to be first to withdraw from these positions. India has told China it will talk about all the flashpoints and not just about the south bank of Pangong Tso, where the Indian Army occupied the strategic heights in August, in a surprise move.
Both countries are gearing up to keep their troops at forward positions in Ladakh in the harsh winter ahead, when temperatures dip to minus 30 degrees Celsius.
The Indian Army has received the initial consignment of extreme cold weather clothing from the United States for its troops. Defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday that “no matter what the sacrifice” India was “determined to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of unilateralism and aggression”.
“India is a peace-loving country. We believe that differences should not become disputes. We attach importance to the peaceful resolution of differences through dialogue. However, India is determined to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of unilateralism and aggression, no matter what the sacrifice,” Mr Singh had said.
During the seventh round of corps commanders’ talks, India and China had on October 12 agreed not to turn differences into disputes and jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in the border areas. Both sides agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for the disengagement as soon as possible.
While India is trying to peacefully resolve the six-month military standoff with China through negotiations, it is also forming strategic alliances with other nations. This was reflected by India’s invitation to Australia to participate in the Malabar naval exercises this year and signing the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (Beca) with the United States last week. This was also a clear signal to China that India will not bow to any pressure, even as it wants peace in the region.