Tension over Pangong still on as Indian, Chinese troops mutually pull back from some locations

Tension over Pangong still on as Indian, Chinese troops mutually pull back from some locations

New Delhi: As a confidence-building measure ahead of another round of military talks to begin from Wednesday-Thursday, Indian and Chinese troops have begun mutual disengagement in some parts of eastern Ladakh, government sources said on Tuesday.

Top military talks are to be held in the ‘Hot Springs’ area of eastern Ladakh.

However tensions around Pangong Tso still remain.

Talks between the two armies are to be held this week at multiple locations including Patrolling point 14 (Galwan area), Patrolling point 15, and Hot Springs, ANI quoted government sources as saying.

Sources say ahead of the talks, a “significant” number of Chinese troops have withdrawn. Except for the Finger region in Pangong Tso, Chinese troops have started pulling back two to three kilometers.

To reciprocate, the Indian side has also brought back some of its troops and vehicles from these areas, said top sources.

Official sources on Tuesday said the “limited mutual troop pull-back” at the confrontation sites in the Galwan Valley region (patrolling points 14 and 15) and Gogra-Hot Springs area over the last couple of days is a clear signal that the actual disengagement in the Himalayan region is now firmly on the cards.

Indian and Chinese troops, along with their heavy weaponry and armoured vehicles, have withdrawn “by about 1 to 2 km” at these confrontation sites.

“The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has moved back around 20 vehicles from these areas. This, of course, is not enough since they moved in first. They have to withdraw more,” said a source.

On Monday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said India wants a resolution of the decades-old border issue with China “as soon as possible”. He described as “positive” last week’s high-level military dialogue between the two sides on the face-off in eastern Ladakh.

In an attempt to defuse tension, Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, the General Officer Commanding of Leh-based 14 Corps, and Commander of the Tibet Military District Major General Liu Lin held an extensive meeting on Saturday.

A day later, the foreign ministry said in a statement that the meeting took place in a “cordial and positive atmosphere” and that both sides had agreed that an “early resolution” would contribute to further development of the relationship between the two countries.

The Chinese foreign ministry, in a statement, said both the countries had agreed to work to maintain peace along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and resolve the standoff through talks.

The tension between the two sides sharply escalated after reports of skirmishes between soldiers in the Pangong Lake region on May 5 and May 6.

While there are several factors at work behind the muscle-flexing by China, including the move to make Ladakh a union territory last year, its main military concern is India’s ongoing construction of feeder links and bridges to its new 255-km Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie road.

The recent Indian decisions on scrutinising Chinese FDI and to woo businesses keen to relocate from the country, under the Atmanirbhar Bharat idea, is a serious strategic challenge. The road, with 37 bridges, runs parallel to the LAC to provide Indian troops with much easier and swifter access to the Depsang and Galwan Valley areas while ending near the strategically-important Kakoram Pass.(Free Press Kashmir)

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