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SOURCE: THE PRINT

For the first time in seven months, China has agreed to carry out a discussion on all friction points with India at the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh, including Depsang Plains, ThePrint has learnt.

China had earlier tried to limit the discussion to the southern and northern banks of the Pangong Tso, but India had insisted that all friction points need to be discussed.

The ground situation in eastern Ladakh remains unchanged, and official sources in the defence and security establishment said another round of corps commander-level meetings could take place as soon as this week, or the next.

“China has agreed to a discussion on all friction points. The next round of talks could be held this week itself if all goes well, where further discussions will take place,” a source said.

China had been demanding that both sides withdraw tanks and artillery guns from the forward areas back to their peacetime locations. It had also suggested that Indian troops vacate the strategic heights on the southern bank of Pangong Tso, while the Chinese troops will move back from the Finger 4 area, which would then be treated as a no-go zone.

However, India has maintained that the onus is on China to carry forward the process of disengagement and de-escalation at all friction points in Ladakh, since it is the aggressor.

Last round of talks
A joint statement released by Beijing and New Delhi Sunday, after the eighth round of military talks held Friday, said the two sides have agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, and take forward the discussions for the settlement of outstanding issues. The two armies also agreed to have another round of meetings soon.

The Indian delegation at Friday’s talks was led by the new commander of the 14 Corps, Lt Gen. P.G.K. Menon.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said Friday that India and China continue to maintain close communication at the military and diplomatic levels to achieve complete disengagement along the LAC.

Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat had also spoken on the issue Friday, and underlined India’s stand, saying that the status quo will have to be restored and India won’t accept any shifting of the LAC.