NEW DELHI: India and China kicked off another round of military talks on Wednesday, with the two sides engaging in “tough negotiations” towards de-escalating the ongoing troop confrontation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh since early-May.

The talks on Wednesday, led by Leh-based 3 Infantry Division commander Major General Abhijit Bapat from the Indian side, will be followed by a series of meetings between the rival brigadier and colonel-level officers.

“It will be a step-by-step process, with each intrusion point and the modalities to resolve the confrontation being discussed in detail. The face-off at Pangong Tso (Tso means lake) will be the most difficult to defuse. Restoration of status quo ante is still some distance away,” said a source.

Indian Army also remains concerned about the major military build-up by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with over 7,000 troops, artillery guns and tanks, within its own territory along the LAC.

With India “mirroring” this build-up by also moving over 10,000 troops forward to their “operational alert areas”, though a little belatedly, the two sides will also have to agree on how to gradually de-induct these high force-levels.

But there has been some easing of tensions with the two armies slightly pulling back their troops, around 1-2 km away, from the confrontation sites in the Galwan Valley region (patrolling points 14 and 15) and Gogra-Hot Springs area over the last couple of days.

There has, however, been no thinning of forces at the major face-off site on the north bank of Pangong Tso. PLA soldiers have blocked all Indian patrols going west to east from “Finger-4 to 8” (mountainous spurs separated by a distance of 8-km) by occupying the entire area since early-May. Indian soldiers for long have patrolled till the Finger-8 area, where the LAC runs north to south, as reported by TOI earlier.

Sources say another round of higher-level dialogue, like the one between 14 Corps commander Lt-General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin at the Chushul-Moldo border personnel meeting (BPM) point on June 6, will be required to defuse the confrontation at Pangong Tso.