SRINAGAR: India and China began pulling back soldiers from a friction point along their border on Thursday, New Delhi’s defence ministry said, following a two-year standoff with sporadic deadly clashes.

The two sides agreed during the 16th round of top-level military talks to begin withdrawing “troops in the area of Gogra-Hot Springs”, according to the statement.

The move, on the frontier between them in Ladakh, was “conducive to the peace and tranquillity in the border areas”, it added.

Beijing did not immediately comment, although New Delhi issued the announcement as a joint statement.

The two countries mobilised tens of thousands of soldiers in the disputed, high-altitude Ladakh region after a mediaeval-style, hand-to-hand battle in 2020 left 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers dead.

Relations plunged between the Asian giants, which fought a full-scale war in 1962 and have a series of border disputes stretching from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.

Beijing claims that state in its entirety and considers it part of Tibet.

Both countries have regularly accused each other of trying to seize territory along their unofficial divide, known as the Line of Actual Control.

Last year, the rivals announced a similar disengagement of their troops from the Pangong Lake area, on the disputed border in Ladakh, but other friction points remain.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2022

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