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Eastern Ladakh standoff: India, China to hold third round of Lt General talks on Tuesday

NEW DELHI: Indian and Chinese militaries will hold another round of Lt General-level talks on Tuesday in an attempt to finalise modalities for disengagement of troops from the friction points in eastern Ladakh and de-escalate tension, government sources said.

The talks are scheduled to start at 10:30 AM in Chushul sector on the Indian side of Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, they said.

In the previous two rounds of talks, the Indian side pitched for the restoration of status quo ante and immediate withdrawal of thousands of Chinese troops from Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso and a number of other areas.

The Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for the last seven weeks, and the tension escalated manifold after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash in Galwan Valley on June 15.

In the talks on June 22, the two sides arrived at a “mutual consensus” to “disengage” from all the friction points in eastern Ladakh.

The previous two rounds of dialogue took place at Moldo on the Chinese side of the LAC.

On Tuesday, the two sides are expected to deliberate on moving forward in implementing the decision to disengage of the forces, the sources said, adding any significant breakthrough is unlikely to emerge from the talks.

The Indian delegation at the meeting will be headed by 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen Harinder Singh while the Chinese side is likely to be led by the Commander of the Tibet Military District Major General Liu Lin.

Following the Galwan Valley incident, the government has given the armed forces “full freedom” to give a “befitting” response to any Chinese misadventure along the LAC, the 3,500-km de-facto border.

The Army has sent thousands of additional troops to forward locations along the border in the last two weeks.

The IAF has also moved air defence systems as well as a sizeable number of its frontline combat jets and attack helicopters to several key air bases.

In a strongly-worded statement, the external affairs ministry last week held China responsible for the standoff saying it has has been amassing a large contingent of troops and armaments along the LAC since early May and that conduct of the Chinese forces is in complete disregard of all mutually agreed norms.

The first round of the Lt General talks were held on June 6 during which both sides finalised an agreement to disengage gradually from all the standoff points beginning with Galwan Valley.

However, the situation deteriorated following the Galwan Valley clashes as the two sides significantly bolstered their deployments in most areas along the LAC.

Tensions had escalated in eastern Ladakh after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on May 5 and 6.

The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9.

Prior to the clashes, both sides had been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it was necessary to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

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