Talks between senior military commanders of India and China on the second and more complex phase of de-escalation and disengagement which started on Tuesday lasted 15 hours, concluding in the early hours of Wednesday, two people familiar with the matter said.
A statement about the talks is unlikely from the Indian side on Wednesday, as it engages “internal deliberations” over the discussions, one of the two people cited above said.
This has led to some speculation that the talks had either hit a roadblock or the Chinese side had made a proposal that required consultations among the top military officers in New Delhi, perhaps also with political leaders. There was also speculation that the de-escalation at Depsang and Pangong Tso could take several more rounds of talks given the complexities involved.
The discussions – between Lt Gen. Harinder Singh, commander of the Leh-based 14th Corps, and Maj. Gen. Liu Lin of the Chinese Liberation Army (PLA) who is in charge of the South Xinjiang Military District – were the fourth since 6 June. They took place in Chushul on the Indian side of the border in Ladakh. The two men have previously met on 6 June, 22 June and 30 June.
According to one of the people cited above, Singh and Liu concluded their talks at around 0230 am on Wednesday, possibly indicative of a tough session of negotiations.
On the table, from the Indian side, was the restoration of status quo ante – or a complete withdrawal of Chinese troops to positions they occupied in April. The Chinese have made inroads into what is seen as Indian territory in the Pangong Tso area and in Depsang plains in eastern Ladakh.