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India and China agree to disengage troops after breakthrough months-long talks

NEW DELHI: India and China have agreed to disengage troops from a bitterly contested lake area in the western Himalayas, the Indian defense minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday, in a breakthrough after a months-long standoff on the disputed border.
Rajnath Singh told parliament the accord had been reached after several rounds of talks between military commanders and diplomats. “Our sustained talks with China have led to agreement on disengagement on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake,” he said.

After announcing the disengagement agreement on the north and west bank of Pangong Lake, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said that Beijing will keep its troops to the east of Finger 8 at the north of the bank of Pangong Lake, while India will keep its troops at its permanent base near Finger 3.

Speaking in Rajya Sabha on the present situation in Eastern Ladakh, Defence Minister said that as per the agreement, both sides will cease their forward deployments in a phased, coordinated and verified manner.

“The agreement that we have been able to reach with the Chinese side for disengagement in the Pangong lake area envisages that both sides will cease their forward deployments in a phased, coordinated and verified manner.  The Chinese side will keep its troop presence in the North Bank area to the east of Finger 8. Reciprocally, the Indian troops will be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3,” Rajnath Singh said.

New Delhi, Feb 11 (ANI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speaks in Rajya Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Thursday. (ANI Photo/RSTV Grab)

It has been agreed to have a temporary moratorium on military activities by both the sides in the North Bank, including patrolling to the traditional areas. Patrolling will be resumed only when bost sides reach an agreement in diplomatic and military talks that would be held subsequently, he added.  

He further added, “Similar action would be taken in the South Bank area by both sides. These are mutual and reciprocal steps and any structures that had been built by both sides since April 2020 in both the North and South Bank area will be removed and the landforms will be restored.”

The Defence Minister stated that India has always told China that bilateral relations can only be maintained by mutual efforts and any impact on peace and tranquillity on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), will adversely affect the ties between the two countries.

“Since last year, we have maintained a relationship with China on military and diplomatic levels. During the talks, we told China that we want a solution to the issue based on three principles. First, both parties must agree on LAC and respect it. Secondly, there shouldn’t be an attempt to change the status unilaterally, by any party. Thirdly, all the compromises should be completely agreed upon by both parties,” said Singh.

India and China had agreed to push for an early disengagement of the frontline troops in eastern Ladakh during the ninth round of the China-India Corps Commander Level meeting held on the Chinese side of the Moldo-Chushul border meeting point on January 24 to address the ongoing military standoff.

The two countries have been engaged in a stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) since April-May last year. While China began amassing massive military strength along the LAC, India responded with a befitting build-up.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said India has always told China that bilateral relations can only be maintained by mutual efforts and any impact on peace and tranquillity on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), will adversely affect the ties between the two countries.

A file picture shows Indian North Commander Chief Lt. Gen Ranbir Singh visits Ladakh front and discussing issues with troops.

Speaking about the present situation in Eastern Ladakh’ in the Rajya Sabha, Singh said, “India has always told China that bilateral relations can only be maintained by the efforts of both the countries. And the question of border issue can be resolved through talks.”

“Any impact on peace and tranquillity on LAC adversely affects our bilateral ties and China is well aware of this. Many high-level joint statements also mention that maintaining peace and tranquillity on LAC and borders is very important for bilateral relation,” he added.

Talking about the ongoing station at the border area, he said, “Since last year, we have maintained a relationship with China on military and diplomatic levels. During the talks, we told China that we want a solution of the issue based on three principles.”

“First, both parties must agree on LAC and respect it. Secondly, there shouldn’t be an attempt to change the status unilaterally, by any party. Thirdly, all the compromises should be completely agreed upon by both parties,” Defence Minister added.

This comes after the Chinese and Indian border troops on the southern and northern shores of Pangong Lake began disengagement on Wednesday as per the consensus reached during the ninth round of military commander-level talks, according to China’s Ministry of National Defence. 

The Chinese and Indian border troops on the southern and northern shores of Pangong Lake began disengagement as planned on Wednesday according to the consensus reached during the ninth round of military commander-level talks, reported Global Times, citing the Defence Ministry.

India and China had agreed to push for an early disengagement of the frontline troops in eastern Ladakh during the ninth round of the China-India Corps Commander Level meeting held on the Chinese side of the Moldo-Chushul border meeting point on January 24 to address the ongoing military standoff.

The two countries have been engaged in a stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) since April-May last year. While China began amassing massive military strength along the LAC, India responded with a befitting build-up.  (ANI)