India and China complete troop disengagement on Himalayan border


After months of tension, India announced on Sunday February 21 that its troops, as well as those of China, had completed their « disengagement » on the border of Tibet and the Indian region of Ladakh, one of the disputed frontier sectors in the Himalayas. The two countries had reached an agreement to this effect in early February, after nine negotiating sessions.

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The Indian Ministry of Defense announced on Sunday, citing a joint statement with Beijing, that during the tenth round of negotiations held on Saturday, “both sides had noted with satisfaction that the disengagement of their frontline troops in the Pangong Lake area had been completed without problems”.

The last clash between Chinese and Indian soldiers in this area dates from June 2020. These clashes had pitted Chinese and Indian soldiers against each other with iron bars and other non-lethal weapons – firearms being prohibited according to a protocol dating back several decades. They had killed on both sides: twenty on the Indian side, according to New Delhi, and four on the Chinese side, according to Beijing.

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“An important step forward”

The armies of the two Asian giants have been in latent conflict for almost ten months, along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) which cuts the region in two, at an altitude of between 4,000 and 5,500 meters. This line of demarcation, not recognized internationally, was drawn in 1962 after a blitzkrieg that resulted in the annexation by China of a large part of Ladakh. Renamed Aksai Chin, the territory, from which India was then amputated, enabled Beijing to establish a land link between Tibet, to the south, and the autonomous province of Xinjiang, to the north.

In June, the two countries accused each other of encroaching on each other’s territory in this area. Beijing and New Delhi had subsequently sent tens of thousands of additional troops to the region as well as heavy weapons.

The disengagement of troops is “an important step forward”, points out the joint statement from Beijing and New Delhi, adding that “Both parties agree to (…) continue their dialogue and communications, stabilize the situation on the ground and strive to resolve the remaining issues in a mutually acceptable manner”.

India and China share 3,500 km of border, other areas of which are disputed, notably in Ladakh. The June incident was the most serious between the two Asian giants and nuclear powers since the blitzkrieg of 1962.

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The World with AFP


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