India, China troops withdraw from conflicted border area | News | DW | 22.02.2021
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India, China troops withdraw from conflicted border area

Troops from India and China have withdrawn from the Pangong Lake area on the Himalayan border between the two countries. A joint statement said both sides would continue to work on resolving remaining issues.

India and China said on Sunday that their troops had pulled out of a disputed lake area on the Himalayan border, after months of heightened tensions.

"The two sides positively appraised the smooth completion of disengagement of frontline troops in the Pangong Lake area noting that it was a significant step forward that provided a good basis for resolution of other remaining issues along the LAC in Western Sector," a joint press release by both sides said.

Commanders from both sides met on Saturday and had an in-depth exchange of views on the situation, according to the press release.

When did the clashes begin?

Soldiers from both sides have been in a face-off since early last year, at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which is the de facto border. Troop deployment in India's Ladakh region and the adjoining China-administered Aksai Chin region had raised tensions among the two nations.

Since the Indo-China war of 1962, the border has remained undefined.

In June 2020, twenty Indian soldiers were killed in clashes in the Galwan valley, the first such combat losses at the border in more than four decades. Beijing said earlier this month four of its troops had died during clashes as well.

India said Chinese troops had intruded into its side of the territory, triggering tensions. China had denied the transgression, and accused Indian troops of provocative behaviour. 

After nine rounds of high level talks since June, Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh confirmed last week that both sides would be disengaging from the Pangong Lake area. 

Officials said that troops remained stationed at other parts of the border, including Hot Springs, Gogra Post and the Depsang plains. 

Is everything calm now?

According to the Indian daily newspaper The Hindu, an official from India said there was still no de-escalation. “The hundreds of troops on the north and south banks have been pulled back from the friction points and moved to the depth areas. The area continues to see presence of a large number of troops,” he said.

The disengagement process began on February 10. Officials from both sides will continue to meet to discuss further de-escalation of border tensions. 

"The two sides agreed to follow the important consensus of their state leaders, continue their communication and dialogue, stabilize and control the situation on the ground, push for a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues in a steady and orderly manner, so as to jointly maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas," said the joint statement.

tg / csb (AFP, Reuters)

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