A marathon 15-hour-long meeting of the Lieutenant General-level commanders of India and China ended at 2 am on Wednesday, indicating positive progress. Details, however, are awaited on what kind of timeline the two sides have agreed to on withdrawing troops and war-waging equipment from the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The two nuclear-armed neighbours are locked in a bitter stand-off since early May, which has seen a few clashes, including a deadly one at Galwan valley on June 15.
The meeting, which had commenced at 11.30 am on Tuesday at Chushul on the Indian side of the designated meeting point, ended at 2 am on Wednesday (around 4.30 am Beijing time), a source said.
Details of what was agreed upon at the meeting were not known immediately. Chushul is some 200 km south-east of Leh, the headquarters of the Army’s 14 Corps headed by Lt Gen Harinder Singh.
Sources said there was no quick-fix remedy for this proposed de-escalation of more than 45,000 troops, hundreds of artillery guns and tanks, rocket launchers, missiles, fighter jets, airborne bombers, and attack helicopters that are lined up on both sides of the LAC.
The meeting was the second stage of a three-step process that has been agreed upon by both sides for restoring peace along the 826-km LAC in Ladakh. There could be multiple meetings before a consensus is reached on a timeline.
The de-escalation timeline will draw up a graded, gradual and mutual withdrawal from the present positions, which in modern military terms are dangerous and hold the potential of flaring up. The two commanders will send back a report to their respective headquarters, which will see the timeline of de-escalation and okay it for implementation on the ground.
This was the fourth such meeting between General Singh and his counterpart Maj Gen Lin Liu, Commander of the South Xinjiang Military Division of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China. Earlier meetings were conducted on June 6, June 22 and June 30.