India and China are scheduled to hold a Corps Commander-level meet in Moldo at 9 am on Monday to deliberate on the ongoing standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. This will be the first time a representative from the Centre will also be a part of the meeting in what can be seen as a move to strengthen India’s negotiating power.
The Indian side will be led by Lt Gen Harinder Singh of the14 Corps while the Chinese will be represented by PLA Major Gen Lin Liu. Other members of the Indian delegation will include the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Joint Secretary Navin Srivastava as well as Major Gen Abhijeet Bapat and Maj Gen Padam Shekhawat.
Inspector-General of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Deepam Seth will also be a part of the meeting along with four brigadiers of the Indian Army.
MEA Joint Secretary Navin Srivastava is the ministry’s point man on East Asia affairs and has also been a part of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China border affairs.
A source told India Today that the country will not be restricted to the issue of friction points and will include the entire stretch of the Indo-China border from North to South.
Depsang, which was not part of the discussion in previous Corps Commander-level talks, will also be taken up owing to China’s massive mobilisation in the area. Emphasis will also be laid on the south bank of Pangong Tso which was at the centre of tension between the Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops in the last week of August.
India is likely to put forward the proposal that if disengagement can take place in places like Galwan and Gogra, why not in Pangong. The Indian delegation will also demand Chinese withdrawal from all friction points with a timeline not just on disengagement but also de-induction of its mechanised and motorised divisions.
Withdrawal of Chinese forces from Depsang to Pangong Tso along with free and unhindered access to Indian forces to all patrol points will also be discussed during the meet. India will not agree to meet China half-way and will reiterate that Indian troops will have to be maintained in eastern Ladakh for protection of territory.
Strict adherence to protocol laid down regarding troop strength along LAC will be one of the key agendas up for discussion.
The Indian delegation will also stress the need to strictly follow the five-point consensus agreed upon by EAM Dr S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow.