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India, China pull back forces from part of disputed border to lower tensions

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Indian and Chinese soldiers have pulled back from another area along their disputed border as part of moves to lower tensions amid a 15-month standoff that has sometimes led to deadly clashes, India’s army said on Friday.

An Indian army statement said the disengagement process was carried out over the past two days in eastern Ladakh’s Gogra area and the troops were now in their respective permanent bases.

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“All temporary structures and other allied infrastructure created in the area by both sides have been dismantled and mutually verified. The landform in the area has been restored by both sides to pre-stand off period,’’ the statement said.

There was no immediate comment from the Chinese side.

Both countries have stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along the de facto border called the Line of Actual Control. Last year, 20 Indian troops were killed in a clash with Chinese soldiers involving clubs, stones, and fists along the disputed border. China said it lost four soldiers.

A view of Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh region. (Reuters)
A view of Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh region. (Reuters)

The Line of Actual Control separates Chinese and Indian-held territories from Ladakh in the west to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety. India and China fought a deadly war over the border in 1962.

The pullback from the Gogra area is the second phase of a negotiated disengagement. In February, both sides pulled back front-line troops and weaponry from the Pangong Tso sector.

Top commanders of the two sides held their 12th round of talks on Saturday with the focus on disengaging troops from Hot Springs, Gogra, and Depsang areas.

The talks were pushed by a meeting of the foreign ministers of both countries in Tajikistan on July 15. Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said that the military standoff was profoundly disturbing their ties. He also warned that any unilateral change in the status quo by Beijing was unacceptable.

China’s Foreign Ministry said after the foreign ministers’ meeting that the standoff benefited neither side and that China wanted to resolve the situation through dialogue.

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