(TibetanReview.net, Sep09’22) – In what is seen as a break in a year-long stalemate in talks between the two countries, India and China have on Sep 8 announced disengagement of their Army troops from patrolling point (PP) 15 in the area of Gogra-Hotsprings at the eastern Ladakh Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector of their border dispute and faceoff.
The development has taken place a week ahead of a possible meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Uzbekistan.
The move breaks a year-long stalemate in talks between the two sides following the May 2020 violent standoff in eastern Ladakh which led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese soldiers.
The last troop disengagement on PP 17A at the same Gogra-Hotsprings was announced in Aug 2021, noted thehindubusinessline.com Aug 8.
And now, in a joint statement issued on Sep 8, the two countries have stated: “According to the consensus reached in the 16th round of India China Corps Commander Level Meeting, the Indian and Chinese troops in the area of Gogra-Hotsprings (PP 15) have begun to disengage in a coordinated and planned way, which is conducive to the peace and tranquillity in the border areas.”
The report said soldiers from each side were being withdrawn from PP 15 along with weapons and other equipment and that the infrastructure will be dismantled according to a schedule being worked out jointly by junior commanders on the ground from the two armies.
And as per an earlier agreement, the two sides will create buffer zones on both sides of the friction points after the disengagement. However, a thin presence is likely to remain for routine patrolling at the LAC, the report noted.
Top Indian Army officials have described the latest breakthrough as “very positive steps” and insisted that all dialogue mechanisms for further disengagement at other friction points in Demchok and Depsang will be pushed in future to restore complete peace at the LAC.
After the last, 16th round of India China Corps Commander Level Meeting at Chushul in Jul 2022, the two sides only announced a deal to maintain “security and stability on the ground”. But now sources have said the agreement on PP 15 troops pullout was achieved at that time itself. However, it was made public only on Sep 8 since consensus on disengagement modalities had to be arrived at, the report cited top Army officials as saying.
Modi and Xi are to attend the two-day SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) Summit 2022, beginning on Sep 15 with suggestions from both sides that the two leaders could meet on the sidelines.