NEW DELHI: The fifth round of corps commander-level talks between India and China will be held next week to take forward the stalled

disengagement process

at

Pangong Tso

and Gogra-Hot Springs as well as discuss the restoration of status quo in the strategically-located Depsang Plains region in eastern Ladakh.

Sources said on Sunday that the rival commanders on the ground were in touch over the hotline to clarify matters over the stalled disengagement process before the next round of corps commanderlevel talks is held in the “second half” of next week.

The north bank of Pangong Tso (Tso means lake) remains the main problem. PLA troops have so far only moved back from the face-off site at the ‘base’ of ‘Finger-4’ to ‘Finger-5’ (mountainous spurs), without also fully vacating the ridge-line that dominates the area.

PLA has since early-May built scores of fortifications and gun positions after occupying the 8-km stretch from ‘Finger-4’ to ‘Finger-8’, where India says the LAC runs north to south, as was earlier reported by TOI. Army’s Northern Command chief Lt-General Y K Joshi, talking to TV channels on Sunday, said “all efforts” were under way to restore status quo, as it existed before mid-April along the line of actual control (LAC), and Indian troops would remain forward deployed till it was achieved.

The “complex and intricate” process of disengagement, initiated after four rounds of military talks, would be verified by the local commanders to ensure its “veracity and correctness” on the ground, he said. Refusing to give a timeframe, Lt-Gen Joshi said, “I believe the negotiations and process of this engagement and commitment of both sides to adhere to the laid down methodology would dictate the timeline of the standoff.”

He added, “There are certain factors, though, such as the country’s territorial integrity, that are not negotiable. While we are investing sincerely in this ongoing endeavour to bring about peace, we also remain prepared at all times for any eventuality.”

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