India, China border face-off ends, both sides agree to withdraw troops

FPAn earlier aerial view of Chinese tents in Indian territory. PTI

The border stand-off between India and China in the cold plains of Depsang in eastern Ladakh ended on Sunday evening with both the countries withdrawing their troops to their original positions and removing the temporary camps.

Express Editorial: A welcome end

After the debacle of three flag meetings that were called by India to defuse the situation, the agreement to end the troop face-off — that had soured bilateral relations after a Chinese patrol party set up a temporary camp 10 km inside the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on April 15 — was reached after the Chinese side initiated two back-to-back flag meetings to discuss disengagement.

The development follows consultations at the level of National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and Indian ambassador to China S Jaishankar. While the resolution was reached diplomatically, the modalities will be discused at another flag meeting scheduled to be held on Monday to authenticate the withdrawal of troops.

Sources said the Chinese side called a flag meeting on Saturday and their first proposal was that Indian troops should withdraw from their current position in Depsang, where they have pitched tents opposite a Chinese encampment, after which they could consider a withdrawal.

The Indian side, on the other hand, stuck to its stand on Saturday that the process of disengagement should be a simultaneous withdrawal of forces from the site that is 10 km inside the Indian side of the LAC.

Sources said that after the meeting on Saturday, the Chinese side again called for a flag meet on Sunday to further discuss the proposals. While details are not yet available, sources said the disengagement took place after both sides reached a mutual agreement on the matter.

However, the devil would lie in the details as China has not given up its demands that concrete structures and fortifications that have been built by India on its side of the border need to be destroyed. Specific objections have been made to Indian positions in Chumar.

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