The ninth round of military talks between India and China has been delayed due to the appointment of a new commander by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for the Western Theatre Command (WTC).
According to a report in Hindustan Times on Tuesday (December 29), the talks will resume after WTC commander General Zhang Xudong’s induction process is completed.
“The process of induction of a new military commander takes time as Gen Zhang is expected to visit key deployments and receive his operational briefings about the situation along the 3488-kilometre Line of Actual Control (LAC),” the newspaper report said.
Gen Zhang replaced General Zhao Zongqi, the man responsible for the ongoing Ladakh standoff, and was also in-charge of WTC during the Doklam standoff in 2017.
Last week, the Ministry of External Affairs said India and China had agreed that the next round of military talks should be held soon for working towards an “early and complete” disengagement of troops along the LAC in eastern Ladakh in accordance with the existing bilateral agreements and protocols.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the diplomatic and military talks have helped both sides to enhance understanding of each other’s positions on the issue.
On December 18, India and China held another round of diplomatic talks under the framework of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China border affairs.
In the virtual meeting, both sides agreed to continue work towards ensuring complete disengagement of troops in all friction points along the LAC in eastern at the “earliest”.
“India and China continue to maintain communications through diplomatic and military channels. These discussions have helped both sides to enhance understanding of each other’s positions,” Srivastava said.
“As you are aware, a meeting of the WMCC on India China border affairs took place on December 18 and the two sides have agreed that the ninth round of senior commanders meeting should be held at an early date so that both sides can work towards an early and complete disengagement of troops along the LAC in accordance with the existing bilateral agreements and protocols and fully restore peace and tranquillity,” he said.
The eighth and last round of military talks had taken place on November 6 during which both sides broadly discussed disengagement of troops from specific friction points.
Nearly 50,000 Indian Army troops are currently deployed in a high state of combat readiness in various mountainous locations in eastern Ladakh in sub-zero conditions as multiple rounds of talks between the two sides have not yielded concrete outcome to resolve the standoff. China has also deployed an equal number of troops, according to officials.
(With inputs from PTI)