The Daily Telegraph

India and China to ‘disengage’ troops on disputed border

- By Our Foreign Staff

INDIAN and Chinese soldiers will “disengage” in the disputed territory along a remote western Himalayan border by Monday after a two-year stand-off, India’s foreign ministry said.

The disengagem­ent follows several rounds of talks and is part of efforts to avoid an escalation in tension between the nuclear-armed Asian powers that went to war over their border in 1962.

The withdrawal, also confirmed by China, comes in the run-up to the SCO summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, next week. China’s president Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, are expected to attend.

Indian and Chinese soldiers began withdrawin­g from the Gogra-hot Springs area in Ladakh in the western Himalayas on Thursday, a process that would be complete by early next week, the foreign ministry said.

“The two sides have agreed to cease forward deployment­s in this area in a phased and coordinate­d manner, resulting in the return of the troops of both sides to their respective areas,” Arindam Bagchi, a foreign ministry spokesman, said in a statement. All temporary structures in the area erected by both militaries will also be dismantled as part of the agreement, he said.

Although details of the agreement have not been made public, the two militaries are likely to create a buffer between their troops and stop patrolling in the area, a defence expert said.

“This is a positive step,” said Rakesh Sharma, a retired Indian lieutenant general who has served in Ladakh. “Faceto-face scenario has been obviated.”

Following a deadly confrontat­ion in June 2020 in which at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed, buffer arrangemen­ts have been implemente­d in other areas in Ladakh where troops were deployed near each other.

Mr Sharma said troops from both sides remain in close proximity in at least one location near the Demchok area in Ladakh, something that could be taken up in further talks.

A substantia­l build-up in border infrastruc­ture by China will also keep thousands of Indian solders deployed along the frontier, Mr Sharma added.

India and China share an un-demarcated 2,360 mile frontier, where troops previously adhered to protocols to avoid the use of any firearms along the notional border known as the Line of Actual Control.

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