The Army has already sent thousands of additional troops to forward locations along the border in the last one week. The IAF has also moved a sizable number of its frontline Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar, Mirage 2000 aircraft and Apache attack helicopters to several key air bases including Leh and Srinagar following the clashes

by Manu Pubby

NEW DELHI: The first round of India-China Corps Commander-level talks after the June 15 clash took place on Monday at Moldo, on the Chinese side of the LAC, after India verified that China had vacated Patrol Point 14 (PP 14) in the Galwan Valley where the violent skirmish had occurred.

ET has reliably gathered that the two sides are now looking at talks to de-escalate the situation at Pangong Tso besides addressing some other issues in Galwan. Several thousand troops have been deployed since early May in Galwan and Pangong Tso after the neighbouring country diverted forces undertaking their annual military exercises in Western China.

The second round of talks between Lt Gen Harinder Singh and his counterpart Maj Gen Liu Lin went on till late Monday night. Also on the agenda, sources said, was the mutual de-induction of thousands of soldiers on the border.

China had originally wanted the Corps Commander-level talks on June 16. India, however, turned this down as according to the mutual understanding reached on June 6, all structures at PP 14 as well as new positions in the Galwan valley were to be removed and troops pulled back prior to the meeting.

Onus On China

The Chinese PLA had not done so and this was conveyed to them.

Following this decision, on June 15, Col Santosh Babu, accompanied by a team of soldiers, had gone up to PP 14 to verify this withdrawal. This was when the deadly tussle broke out that led to fatalities on both sides, which included the Chinese Commanding Officer. But after the violence, sources said, Chinese side cleared the area.

The Indian position has been very clear that the onus on taking the first step towards reducing overall troop levels on the LAC falls on China as it was the instigator, bringing in additional forces, tanks, artillery and other warfighting equipment.

At least two enhanced brigades have been moved by the PLA and placed close to Indian posts at Gogra, Galwan and Pangong Tso lake. India has responded by moving a larger number of forces from different locations and placing them on the border.

Sources said that India sees the amassing of Chinese troops on the border as a major provocation and talks to ease the situation cannot continue till they are vacated from the area. This build-up is also in violation of border treaties and agreements signed between the two sides.

Talks will also focus on the 'Finger area' on the banks of Pangong Tso lake, where the PLA has occupied territory claimed by India and has built hundreds of new structures, defensive bunkers and a virtual marina.

The Chinese occupation of the feature named Finger 4 has effectively cut off an area in excess of 50 sq km that was earlier patrolled by Indian troops. As per the understanding at the first Lt Gen-level talks on June 6, the standoff at Galwan and Gogra was to be resolved first, followed by talks on the Finger area and troop build-up.

The military commanders are also expected to clarify the rules of engagement for troops on the border, with the Indian side clear that it has not violated any border agreements, even in the face of grave provocation by Chinese soldiers.