Journal : Global Times (Chinese) Date : Author : Sspecial correspondents in India Hu Bofeng, Guo Yuandan Page No. : NA

The Chinese Ministry of Defense issued a press release on the evening of Feb. 21, saying that on Feb. 20, the Chinese and Indian armies held the 10th round of military commander-level talks on the Chinese side of the Moldo/Chushul meeting point. The two sides gave positive comments on the disengagement of frontline troops in the Pangong Lake area in the first stage, considering it an important progress that provides a basis for resolving other issues relating to the Line of Actual Control in the Western sector of the China-India border. The two sides frankly and thoroughly exchanged views on outstanding issues relating to the Line of Actual Control in the western sector. The two sides agreed to follow the important consensus of the leaders of the two countries, continue to maintain communication and dialogue, stabilise the situation on the ground, reach a mutually acceptable solution in a steady and orderly manner, and jointly maintain peace and tranquility in the border area.

The Indian Defense Ministry issued a press release with similar content on the evening of the 21st. Prior to that, a number of Indian mainstream media quoted official sources as saying that senior commanders of the Indian and Chinese armies held the tenth round of military commander-level talks from the morning of the 20th, which lasted 16 hours and ended at 2 a.m. on the 21st. The Hindustan Times said the two sides focused on the disengagement of the two armies at other standoff sites in “eastern Ladakh” on the basis of the disengagement on the northern and southern banks of the Pangong Lake.

According to the consensus reached at the ninth round of military chief-level talks between China and India, the front-line troops of the two armies on the southern and northern banks of Pangong Lake began organized and  simultaneous disengagement on Feb. 10. The Times of India said on February 21 that the disengagement in the area had been completed the previous day. Indian sources familiar with the tenth round of talks told local media that “the talks are going well” and that the Indian side hopes that “the next phase of the disengagement process will be as smooth as the previous one”.

Some analysts believe that the official press release issued by India and China on the evening of the 21st indicates that the two sides have not yet reached an agreement on the above-mentioned issues, but both sides have confidence and patience to reach the goal.

Qian Feng, Director of the Research Department of the National Institute of Strategic Studies of Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on February 21 that since the two sides reached a consensus on disengagement on February 10, there have been multiple indications of both sides  earnestly implementing the terms of the agreement, with the ground level commanders meeting during the day to examine the status of specific implementation measures and confirm the “time-table” for the next day. Given that the northern and southern banks of Pangong lake are the key areas where the standoff was most likely to erupt, the current disengagement of frontline forces in this area has been achieved. The two sides will maintain the momentum of withdrawal in other areas in the future.

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