India, China set up hotline in Sikkim for commanders

India and China in a goodwill gesture on Sunday established a hotline between the local commanders in the Sikkim sector.  This sector has seen face-offs between the troops of the two sides and a hotline will help in easing the tension at the earliest.

Giving details here, officials said the hotline is between Kongra La, North Sikkim and People’s Liberation Army(PLA)kin Tibetan Autonomous Region.  It was activated to further the spirit of trust and cordial relations along the borders, they said, adding the event coincided with the PLA Day on August one.  Such hotlines between local commanders of the two armies are active at some points in Ladakh in the western sector of the LAC and in Arunachal Pradesh(eastern sector).

The Armed forces of the two countries have well established mechanisms for communication at ground commanders’ level.  These hotlines in various sectors go a long way in enhancing the same and maintaining peace and tranquility at the borders, officials said.

The inauguration was attended by ground commanders of the respective Armies and a message of friendship and harmony was exchanged through the Hotline.

The event came a day after the Corps Commanders of India and China held the 12the round of talks on Saturday to resolve the ongoing face-offs at some friction points in Eastern Ladakh.  The meeting lasted for more than nine hours with the two commanders including Lt General P G K Menon and Major General Liu Lin discussing ways to speed up the disengagement from three friction points.

The Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang valley remain flash points with the troops from both the sides in a face-off situation there.  India has all along maintained that total disengagement from all the points is the prerequisite for restoring normal ties.  China, however, wants the local commanders to discuss these issues and India is reluctant to do so far.

India and China in February this year agreed to set up a hotline between the foreign ministers of the two countries. This decision was taken after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankafr and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi held telephonic talks to review the disengagement of troops from the southern and northern banks of the Pangong Tso(lake)in Eastern Ladakh earlier that month.  The two governments had said after the talks the main aim of having a hotline at such a high level was “timely communication and exchange of views.”

The hotline between the two ministers will be in addition to the agreed-upon military hotline between the Army’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) and Chinese PLA’s Western Theatre Command.  It will be on the lines of the existing hotline between the Indian DGMO and his Pakistani counterpart.  They review the situation on the Line of Control(LOC)and other issues once a week.

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