Seventh round of India-China military talks on border row likely next week

indian army's t-90 deployed in eastern ladakh
The Indian Army ‘s T-90 Bhishma tanks near the Line of Actual Control in the Chumar-Demchok area of eastern Ladakh

India and China are expected to hold the seventh round of corps commander-level talks in eastern Ladakh next week in their latest attempt to reduce military friction along the contested border, officials familiar with the developments said on Thursday.

The two countries have been locked in a border row for almost five months, and their armies have made arrangements for a long haul in the Ladakh sector with no resolution to the dispute in sight.

Indian and Chinese diplomats held talks on the border standoff on Wednesday with little to show beyond a commitment to implement decisions made at the last round of military talks about maintaining stability along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The September 21 military talks remained inconclusive, with Indian negotiators firmly demanding comprehensive disengagement at all flashpoints and restoration of status quo ante as the only approach towards de-escalation, and China asking India to withdraw its soldiers from strategic heights on the southern bank of Pangong Tso to reduce friction.

The two sides, however, made some headway.

According to a joint statement, released in New Delhi and Beijing on September 22, the two sides agreed to stop sending more troops to the front line and to hold a seventh round of commander-level talks “as soon as possible, take practical measures to properly solve problems on the ground, and jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in the border area.”

China’s recent assertion that it abides by the LAC as proposed by Premier Zhou Enlai to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959 has complicated the border row in eastern Ladakh, and called into question Beijing’s intent to restore status quo ante of early April and de-escalate the conflict, officials said.

A change of guard is set to take place at the Leh-based 14 Corps, with its current commander Lieutenant General Harinder Singh moving out shortly after completing his one-year term. Singh is heading to Dehradun as the commandant of the Indian Military Academy.

Singh will be replaced by Lieutenant General PGK Menon. He was present along with Singh at the September 21 talks. The change of guard will take place around mid-October.