After eight rounds of meetings between corps commanders of Indian and Chinese armies, there seems to be a glimmer of hope in favour of de-escalation. Officials aware of the eighth round of talks told News18 that Chinese have indicated that they are willing to de-escalate. “Momentum seems to be building in favour of both sides withdrawing their men and machines,” an officer in the know told News18.
The talks on November 6 between Indian side lead by Lt Gen PGK Menon, the 14 Corps Commander and his Chinese counterpart began around 9.30 am on the Indian side at Chushul and went on for close to 10 hours.
An officer who is monitoring the situation said the eighth round of meeting saw “one-to-one talks between the two corps commanders post which feelers were given that Chinese were willing to withdraw”.
A second officer in the security grid added that the first round of de-escalation could being from Pangong Tso. “Simultaneous withdrawal of troops from both north and south bank is on the table. Depsang, etc will be discussed later,” the officer said.
China had objected to India patrolling till Finger 8 on the north bank of Pangong Tso. Officials said patrolling issues were also discussed at the meeting and a solution has been reached on how to patrol without raising hackles of other side.
A source told News18 ,”The minutes of the meeting, the details that were discussed have been now sent to south block for the final go ahead.”
Officials News18 spoke to credited External Affairs minister S Jaishankar with the turnaround in the Chinese strategy. “The difference in China’s attitude was visible soon after EM’s meeting with Wang Yi in Moscow. On the eve of the meeting, the two sides were eye ball to eye ball, firing could have happened any moment but post the Moscow meeting both sides started informing each other when their transport trucks moved. Local commanders enforced communication. A few days later even the tanks on both sides turned their guns to face away from the enemy deployment,” the officer detailed.
He added that S Jaishankar continued to use his diplomatic experience to impress upon China post the Moscow meeting that India will not withdraw and Chinese insistence of unilateral withdrawal by India was unfair.
The harsh winters could also have played a role in the turnaround by China as per assessment by Indian establishment. “Apprehension of mounting casualty because of the plummeting temperature could have played a role in their decision,” an officer from the security grid said. Though the Indian side refused to confirm any number, the assessment bid China has lost men in eastern Ladakh as temperatures now hover around -15.
The November 6 corps commander talks, which lasted for nearly 11 hours, were held in Chushul on the Indian side of the LAC. The talks were candid, in-depth and constructive as per the joint statement released by the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
A statement from Indian side said, “Both sides agreed to earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, ensure their front-line troops to exercise restraint and avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation.”
Another round of talks between the two sides could happen soon.