India cannot meet China half way in the disengagement process as the country has to maintain troops for the protection of territory, an official source said, as the sixth round of Corps Commander-level talks began on Monday, aimed at ending the five-month-long standoff along the disputed boundary in Ladakh.
The talks began around 9.30 a.m. on the Chinese side at Moldo, a defence source said. The Indian side was led by Lt. Gen. Harinder Singh, 14 Corps Commander. He was accompanied by Lt. Gen. P.G.K. Menon, who is set to take over as the 14 Corps Commander next month. The Chinese side was led by Maj. Gen. Lin Liu, South Xinjiang military commander.
China must also strictly follow the five-point consensus decided by the two Foreign Ministers in Moscow on September 10, the official stated. For the first time, Naveen Srivastava, Joint Secretary handling East Asia division in the Ministry of External Affairs, is part of the delegation.
The delegation also includes a senior officer from the Army headquarters and another Major General of a formation added in Ladakh, the official stated. Deepam Seth, Inspector General, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, is also part of the delegation.
Mr. Srivastava has been part of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination talks between India and China on border affairs and has been holding talks with the Chinese side during the ongoing standoff.
According to official sources, India’s agenda at the talks is that China must withdraw from all friction points, with timeline for de-induction of mechanised and motorised divisions, and withdrawal of Chinese forces from Depsang to Pangong Tso and free and unhindered access to Indian forces to all patrol points.
India’s demand is also for strict adherence to laid-down protocol on troop strength on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). “Not just disengagement but also de-induction,” the official added.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Parliament last week that China had mobilised a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC as well as in the depth areas, in violation of the 1993 and 1996 border agreements and that there were several friction areas in eastern Ladakh, including Gogra, Kongka La and north and south banks of the Pangong Tso.