NEW DELHI ;
INDIAN and Chinese armies have arrived at a “mutual consensus” to “disengage” from all friction points in eastern Ladakh, in a significant development that came in the midst of spiralling border tension following the killing of 20 Indian soldiers and 43 Chinese in a clash at Galwan Valley, military sources said on Tuesday. The decision to disengage the forces, locked in a bitter standoff for the last six weeks in eastern Ladakh, was taken at a nearly 11-hour meeting between senior Indian and Chinese commanders in Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on Monday.
The talks were held in a “cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere” and it was decided that modalities for disengagement from all areas in eastern Ladakh will be taken forward by both the sides, the sources said detailing about the outcome of the second Lt General-level meeting. “There was a mutual consensus to disengage. Modalities for disengagement from all friction areas in eastern Ladakh were discussed and will be taken forward by both the sides,” said a source. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson in Beijing said the two sides had a “candid and in-depth exchange of views on the outstanding issues and agreed to take necessary measures to cool down the situation.”
In the meantime, Army Chief Gen M M Naravane reviewed the Army’s overall combat readiness in the Ladakh region with the ground commanders soon after arriving in Leh. The Chief of the Army Staff will visit various forward areas during his two-day trip to the region. The two militaries are engaged in a bitter standoff in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Gogra Hot Spring and a number of other areas for the last six weeks. The Indian delegation at the talks was led by 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen Harinder Singh while the Chinese was headed by the Commander of the Tibet Military District Maj Gen Liu Lin.
The first round of the Lt Gen talks was held on June 6 during which both sides finalised an agreement to disengage gradually from all standoff points beginning with Galwan Valley. However, the situation along the border deteriorated following the Galwan Valley clashes on June 15 as the two sides significantly bolstered their deployment in most areas along the 3,500-km de-facto border after the incident.
On Sunday, the Government gave the Armed Forces “full freedom” to give a “befitting” response to any Chinese misadventure along the LAC. The Army has already sent thousands of additional troops to forward locations along the border in the last one week. The IAF has also moved a sizeable number of its frontline Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar, Mirage 2000 aircraft and Apache attack helicopters to several key air bases including Leh and Srinagar following the clashes. In the Lt Gen talks, the Indian delegation strongly raised the “premeditated” assault by Chinese troops on Indian soldiers in Galwan Valley.