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India, China hold 13th round of talks to ease LAC tensions

NEW DELHI, Oct 10: The Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Sunday held talks to resolve problems at frictions points on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh where the countries have been locked in a border standoff for over 17 months, officials familiar with the developments said on Sunday.

The 13th round of talks between corps commander-ranked officers from the two armies began at 10.30 am at Moldo on the Chinese side of the LAC and got over at 7.00 pm, the officials said. It came more than two months after the last round of talks that led to disengagement of forward deployed troops from Gogra or Patrol Point-17A, which was one of the flashpoints on LAC, in early August.

The focus of the ongoing talks is to cool tensions at Hot Springs and Depsang. Officials earlier said disengagement of rival frontline soldiers deployed at Hot Springs was on the agenda for the 13th round of talks.

The talks come at a time of massive military build-up and infrastructure development by PLA across LAC, with the Indian Army matching the Chinese moves.

In February, the two sides pulled back their troops and weaponry from the Pangong Tso sector. But despite two rounds of disengagement at friction points this year, the two sides still have 50,000 to 60,000 troops each and advanced weaponry in the Ladakh theatre.

Army chief General Naravane on Saturday said if PLA is there to stay in the Ladakh theatre, so is the Indian Army, flagging concern about the continuing Chinese build-up in the theatre.

The latest round of military dialogue follows a face-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers along LAC in Arunachal Pradesh’s sensitive Tawang sector last week and another incursion by PLA in Uttarakhand on August 30.

Top Indian and Chinese commanders had agreed to a speedy resolution of outstanding issues on LAC at the 12th round of talks, with the dialogue focusing on disengagement of rival troops from the remaining flashpoints on the contested border.

A joint statement issued after the 12th round described the talks as “a candid and in-depth exchange of views on resolution of remaining areas related to disengagement along LAC in the Western Sector of India-China border areas.”

Chinese Troops Increased in Eastern Ladakh: Army Chief Sounds Alert

LEH, Oct 2: Army Chief Gen MM Naravane said on Saturday said that the Chinese troops have been deployed in “considerable numbers" across all eastern Ladakh and northern front, right up to India’s eastern command. Calling it a “matter of concern", the Army chief added that there has been an increase in the PLA’s deployment.

“Chinese have deployed in considerable numbers all across Eastern Ladakh and Northern front right up to our Eastern command. Definitely, there has been an increase in their deployment in the forward areas which remains a matter of concern for us," he was quoted as saying.

Naravane was in Leh town where world’s largest Khadi national flag was installed on October 2, on the occasion of 152nd birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Naravane on Friday visited several forward areas in eastern Ladakh and carried out a comprehensive review of India’s operational preparedness in the backdrop of its prolonged military standoff with China in the mountainous region. He was given a detailed briefing about the overall situation in the region at the headquarters of the 14 Corps, popularly known as the ‘Fire and Fury Corps’, that takes care of guarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in the Ladakh region, officials said.

On the first day of his two-day tour of the region, Gen Naravane visited the strategically sensitive Rezang-La area and visited a war-memorial there to pay homage to the soldiers who laid down their lives in defending the country, they said. The Chief of Army Staff also called on Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, Radha Krishna Mathur, and discussed the prevailing security scenario in the Union Territory.

Several reports had recently quoted sources as saying that China has put in place new modular container-based accommodations for its troops in several high-altitude forward areas on its side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh in response to Indian deployment in the region. The shelters were installed in locations near Tashigong, Manza, Hot Springs and Churup among others, in reflection of simmering tensions between the two sides in the region, they said.

The people familiar with the developments cited above said China’s People Liberation Army has been feeling the heat of the Indian response to its “misadventure" in the region last year and that the Chinese military has been forced to go for long deployments and boost infrastructure in the region. They said the Indian response to the Chinese actions last year, particularly after the Galwan Valley clashes, surprised the neighbouring country and that it deployed troops in areas where it never used to earlier.

India hit out at China on Thursday for once again holding it responsible for the eastern Ladakh standoff, asserting that the “provocative" behaviour and “unilateral" attempts by the Chinese military to alter the status quo resulted in a serious disturbance of peace and tranquillity in the region. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said China continues to deploy a large number of troops and armaments in the border areas and it was in response to Chinese actions that the Indian armed forces had to make appropriate counter deployments.


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