LAC situation stable, hope for mutually beneficial agreement: Army Chief

Speaking at a conference in Delhi, the Army Chief said “the situation as of now is quite stable”, “both sides are engaged in talks”.

Army Chief General MM Naravane Tuesday said that the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh was “stable” and India and China are “ironing out modalities” on how to move ahead.

Speaking at a conference in Delhi, the Army Chief said “the situation as of now is quite stable”, “both sides are engaged in talks”.

Mentioning the eighth round of senior commander discussions that took place on November 6, Naravane said that “they are ironing out the modalities of how to proceed ahead within the overarching guidelines which had been communicated post the interactions and the meetings between the respective ministers”.

“The process is on and we are very hopeful that we will be able to reach an agreement which is mutually-acceptable and mutually-beneficial in keeping with this overarching policy guideline which has been passed down to both sides …”

Naravane stated that “it was discussed by the defence ministers that it has to be an overall solution to the entire issue which brought this situation to the fore”.

While the discussions of the senior commanders did not achieve a major breakthrough, India is considering a new proposal from China, made during the meeting, which is “better than the previous proposal”, a senior Army officer had told The Indian Express on Monday.

Earlier, in the sixth and seventh rounds of discussions between the Corps Commanders on September 21 and October 12, respectively, China had insisted that India first vacate the heights occupied by the troops in Chushul-Moldo area and the north and south bank of Pangong Tso. This was not agreeable to India, which has insisted that disengagement and eventual de-escalation of the entire region be discussed together, and has been demanding status quo ante, for the troops to go back to their April positions.

Naravane Tuesday denied that there was any shortage of essential supplies for the troops in the region. India and China have positioned around 50,000 troops each, along with additional artillery, tanks and air defence assets in the region. In the absence of a breakthrough, both sides are ready for a prolonged deployment of additional troops and assets through the brutal winter.

Naravane said that “there is no shortage whatsoever of any kind” and asserted that “all the troops are equipped with the latest equipment and newest of clothing and weapons they require”. He said that “we cater for a certain number of troops at any point of time,” but this year “the situation which developed, required us to deploy additional troops and it is for these additional troops that we had to go in for certain emergency procurements”.

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said, “we are today operating in a very complex, uncertain and volatile environment” and that there are “small and big battles raging nearly in every region of the world”.

Therefore, he said, “we all need strong armed forces if we have to defend ourselves… defend the integrity of our nation and the safety and security of our people”.

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