NEW DELHI: India will hold the next round of top-level military talks with China this weekend in yet another bid to defuse the over two-year-long troop confrontation in eastern Ladakh, but there is little hope of resolving the crucial stand-off at the strategically-located Depsang Plains.
The 16th round of corps commander-level talks, led by the Leh-based 14 Corps commander Lt-General Anindya Sengupta and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Yang Lin, will be held on July 17, sources said on Wednesday.
After the 15th military round was held on March 11 without any breakthrough, external affairs minister S Jaishankar has met his counterpart Wang Yi a couple of times, the latest being on the sidelines of the G-20 foreign ministers’ meet at Bali on July 7.
India has repeatedly stressed that resolution of the Ladakh confrontation is critical for improvement in the overall bilateral relationship, but to no avail till now. China, in an indicator of its intent, has instead relentlessly built new military infrastructure like troop bunkers and helipads, gun and missile positions, roads and bridges all along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) stretching from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. A Chinese fighter jet even flew very close to Indian troop positions at one of the `friction points’ in eastern Ladakh as recently as on June 28, as was reported by TOI.
Sources said while India expects some progress in completing the stalled troop disengagement at Patrolling Point-15 (PP-15) in the Hot Springs-Gogra-Kongka La area in the 16th round of military talks, China has shown no signs of disengaging from the much bigger stand-offs at Depsang and the Charding Ninglung Nallah (CNN) track junction at Demchok.
China, in fact, has dragged its feet at even resolving the friction at PP-15 despite “an understanding” being reached by the rival military commanders for troop disengagement there during the 12th military round in July last year.
“There continue to be mixed signals from China and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA). They have shown no intent to even properly discuss the Depsang stand-off till now,” a source said.
The PLA has been actively blocking Indian soldiers in the Depsang Bulge area, around 18-km inside what India considers its own territory, from even going to their traditional PPs-10, 11, 12, 12A and 13 in the area since April-May 2020.
After the multiple PLA incursions into eastern Ladakh at that time, which triggered the still-continuing military confrontation with India, troop disengagement took place in the Pangong Tso-Kailash Range region in February last year and subsequently at PP-17A near the crucial Gogra post in early-August. But the overall deadlock persists, with over 50,000 troops each from the two sides remaining forward deployed along with heavy weapons along the frontier in the high-altitude region.





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