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China, India Agree to Complete Troop Pullback From Disputed Border as Soon as Possible

Sputnik News

10:05 GMT 06.07.2020(updated 10:56 GMT 06.07.2020)

Troops from the two countries have faced off in a series of tense standoffs, occasionally degenerating into hand-to-hand combat, since May over the disputed Pangong Lake region between Ladakh and the Tibet Autonomous Region, and territories near the border between Tibet and Sikkim.

China and India have agreed to ensure a complete disengagement of troops in the disputed border areas as soon as possible, the foreign ministries of both countries confirmed on Monday.

India's Ministry of External Affairs said Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi discussed the situation by telephone on Sunday, engaging in a "frank and in-depth exchange of views" and agreeing to the prompt disengagement of border troops along the Line of Actual Control, the de facto border between the two countries that has been in place since the Sino-Indian War of 1962.

According to an Indian readout of the agreed upon measures, the two sides committed to "ensure at the earliest complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and transparency." Additionally, both sides agreed to "complete the ongoing disengagement process along the LAC expeditiously" and to "ensure a phased and stepwise de-escalation" of tensions in the border area.

"They reaffirmed that both sides should strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control and should not take any unilateral action to alter the status quo and work together to avoid any incident in the future that could disturb the peace and tranquility in border areas," the statement added.

Sunday's talks were said to have been Doval and Wang's first contact since the start of the conflict in May, with Beijing and New Delhi communicating via multiple other channels, including at the military level, before then.

The affirmation of intent follows reports by the Indian army earlier Monday that Chinese forces had been seen withdrawing from the contested Himalayan valley which saw brutal hand-to-hand fighting last month, with the Indian side currently said to be "verifying" the extent of the Chinese withdrawal.

Also on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters that "positive progress" had been made toward disengagement, adding that he hoped "that the Indian side will go with the Chinese side to implement the consensus reached by both sides with practical actions."

The China-India border conflict led to the deaths of up to 20 Indian troops and injuries to a further 70 during a deadly confrontation in the Galwan Valley in June, with an unknown number of Chinese servicemen also believed to have been killed or injured. Several servicemen from both sides were also said to have been captured and later released.

China accused Indian soldiers of illegally crossing the LAC and staging a provocation, while India has said that the fighting was the result of a unilateral Chinese attempt to 'change the consensus' regarding the LAC.

The skirmishes have caused the worst crisis in relations between the Asian economic and military giants in decades, with India moving to ban Chinese products, and the government cancelling several contracts with Chinese entities on the construction of railways, roads, and telecommunications infrastructure.


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