Indian and Chinese troops at a Himalayan mountain border outpost. Image: AFP

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh will visit the front line in Ladakh on Friday, as top army generals from India and China negotiate disengagement from the region after deadly skirmishes.

Singh is likely to meet the top brass in the Indian forces and encourage troops guarding the region after China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) encroached into Indian territory in several sectors of Ladakh in May and June.

Singh’s visit follows tough negotiations between generals on both sides on China’s encroachment into the Pangong Tso lake area. Talks started before noon on Tuesday and continued until 2am on Wednesday.

While there was no official briefing or explanation of the on-the-ground situation or status of the talks, the Indian Army said both sides were committed to complete disengagement.

“This process is intricate and requires constant verification. They are taking it forward through regular meetings at the diplomatic and military level,” the Indian Army said on Thursday.

India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh has been in talks with his Chinese counterparts. Photo: AFP/Evgeny Biyatov/Sputnik

Analysts remain divided on how quickly the talks can result in a lasting solution. Some say the talks could take longer than a few weeks. The solution may still not be to everyone’s liking since India would seek the withdrawal of Chinese forces to the pre-April 2020 positions.

The Chinese, sensing that as occupiers they have a better bargaining position, may try to extract more and may not withdraw fully to the pre-incursion positions.

Commenting on the fourth commander-level talks between the two countries, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said the sides were making positive progress in further disengaging front line troops in the western section of the border.

“We hope the Indian side can meet us halfway to implement our consensus with real actions, and jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in the border area,” Hua was quoted by the People’s Daily as saying. Hua said the talks also helped to ease the border situation.

The disengagement talks were a result of the July 6 agreement between India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi to “strictly respect and observe the line of actual control and not take any unilateral action to alter the status quo and work together to avoid any incident in the future that could disturb peace and tranquility in border areas.”

The PLA had earlier withdrawn partially from the Galwan Valley. The Indian side had not provided any official clarity earlier on the extent of the Chinese occupation in Galwan Valley. Some analysts and retired generals see the Chinese withdrawal as partial.

Even after the July 6 agreement to disengage and de-escalate, the Chinese presented a tougher posture, hinting at its claim over the land it encroached upon.

“China will continue firmly safeguarding our territorial sovereignty as well as peace and tranquility in the border areas,” the Chinese embassy said on July 6. “The right and wrong of what recently happened at the Galwan Valley in the western sector of the China-India boundary is very clear.”

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