NEW DELHI: The corps commanders of the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA are slated to meet on Sunday for the ninth round of talks to find ways to resolve the protracted tension along the line of actual control in eastern Ladakh. Confirming the development, a senior Army officer said, “The talks will be held in Moldo opposite the Chushul sector in India.”
The last corps commander-level talks between the two countries were held on November 6 in Chushul. The Indian side will be led for the first time by 14 Corps commander Lt Gen P G K Menon. While the meeting will mean a breaking of ice after a freeze of nearly three months, defence analysts and former officers do not expect much because of the environment of mistrust between the armies of the two countries. Lt Gen Rajan Bakshi (retd), who commanded 14 Corps, said a breakthrough can only be achieved at the diplomatic level and military talks are unlikely to yield any result.
Recalling a three-week faceoff in south Depsang in 2013, Lt Gen Bakshi said he led the talks from the Indian side at that time but it was the joint study group that ultimately resolved the standoff. Maj Gen S B Asthana (Retd) said the talks were necessary to move towards a resolution but “we must not hope too much” because the trust deficit was high.
He said the northern neighbour was celebrating the Communist Party of China’s centenary and in this situation “if the PLA moves its troops back it will be a loss of face in front of the domestic audience.” Maj Gen Asthana said even if the Chinese troops withdraw from the eyeball-to-eyeball situation, they can be back at will because of the kind of infrastructure they have created in those areas. “Unless we resolve the LAC issues we must not vacate the Kailash Range which China insists on,” he said. With the Indian soldiers occupying heights at the Kailash Range overlooking the Moldo garrison of the PLA, China wants this advantage of India to go away.