India and China have started the process of de-escalation at the Line of Actual Control with the withdrawal of troops, guns and combat vehicles from three standoff positions in eastern Ladakh, sources said on Tuesday.
Top military talks are to be held in the 'Hot Springs' area of eastern Ladakh on Wednesday, June 10.
Ahead of tomorrow's talks, a huge chunk of the Chinese troops have been withdrawn but the exact number is not known. Except for the fingers region in Pangong Tso Lake, Chinese forces have started withdrawing 2 to 3 km.
News agency ANI quoted government sources saying that the talks between the two armies are to be held this week at multiple locations including Patroling point 14 (Galwan area), Patrolling point 15, and Hot Springs area.
De-escalation of soldiers from 4 standoff points
India's bone of contention of Chinese troops built up at Finger Four would be resolved eventually, they said.
The withdrawal started happening after India and China's top military-level talks that took place June 6.
The meeting on June 6 lasted for around six hours in two phases. During the first half an hour, the delegation leaders had one-to-one meeting and that laid the basis for the second phase of talks. The Indian military delegation is headed by the commander of Leh-based 14 Corp Lieutenant General Harinder Singh and Chinese side is headed by Major General Liu Lin, Commander of South Xinjiang Military Region.
After the first half and hour one to one meeting of delegation leaders, then the next two hours it was delegation-level talks where 12 members, including translator, from the Indian side and the same number from the other side deliberated over the issue. After two hours, a lunch break was taken and then four-hour long deliberations took place.
There were five main issues during the discussion between the delegates.
They included de-escalation of soldiers from four standoff points from both the countries. The four standoff points are Finger Four of North Bank of Pangong Lake, Patrolling point 14 near Galwan Valley, patrolling point 15 and patrolling point 17-A.
These are four points where troop concentration happened from both armies across the Line of Actual Control of either side. "No one crossed the Line of Actual Control as perceived by each other," the source added.
The three points of standoffs that is patrolling point 14 near Galwan Valley at Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley, patrolling point 15 is near patrolling point 14 and another patrolling point 17-A, which is also known as hot springs would be resolved at brigade level.
During deliberations, it was decided after 10 days, brigadier-level talks will begin for three patrolling points -- PP 14, PP 15 and PP 17-A.
The important contention from Indian side was at Finger Four at the Pangong Lake. This would be taken up with the higher level of Lieutenant-General-level talks. One more round of senior military-level talks would take place, said sources adding that India wants a pre-May 8 position. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi had talks over the standoff issue on May 8.
The fifth agenda was about the gradual de-escalation of military buildup that had happened after 20 kilometers and 30 kilometers from Line of Actual Control on each side. This was well taken up by Chinese delegates and it will start happening.
During deliberations, India raised that since China had started deployment of troops and big guns it should start de-escalation move to which it had agreed and started the process and accordingly India too has started withdrawing its forces.
Clashes between Indian and Chinese troops
Clashes between Indian and Chinese troops happened between May 5 and May 8 several times. Thereafter, Chinese increased the deployment of troops and guns and Indian Army too deployed and moved guns in equal numbers. "The reserve troops in Ladakh were swiftly moved to the standoff positions," said source.
Now, both countries have decided to de-induct and de-escalate troops and guns and move backwards.
On Monday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that India and China have reached a consensus not to escalate the situation further, and maintain peace and stability along the border together.
Hua in Beijing said that on Saturday (June 6), China and India held commander-level talks over the border dispute in which the two sides reached a consensus to maintain peace and stability along the border together.
She said, "Recently, diplomatic and military channels of the two sides have maintained close communications on the situation along the border. One consensus is that the two sides need to implement the two leaders' consensus and make sure that differences do not escalate into disputes."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping have held two summits where they had decided to maintain peace and tranquillity along the borders.
(With agency inputs)