By SM.06 Jul, 2020
NEW DELHI: China has withdrawn its troops by at least a kilometer in the tense Galwan river valley in eastern Ladakh, where 20 soldiers were killed in action in a deadly brawl with Chinese troops on June 15, sources said on Monday. Indian soldiers have also pulled back and a buffer zone has been created between the troops of both sides, according to the sources.
"We will need to wait to see if this is a lasting, genuine disengagement," said the sources. Temporary structures built by Chinese soldiers at the illegally occupied site at the river-bend embankment are being removed by both sides, according to the sources.
Reports of the pull-back in the last 24 hours have emerged three days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi"s surprise visit to a Ladakh forward post on Friday, where he addressed thousands of troops and asserted, without naming China, that "the age of expansionism is over and expansionist forces have either lost or were forced to turn back."
On Sunday, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and China"s Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke on the phone and, according to an official statement, had a "frank and in-depth exchange of views on the recent developments in the Western Sector of the India-China border areas".
Doval and the Chinese minister agreed that "it was necessary to ensure at the earliest complete disengagement of the troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquility". They also discussed completing disengagement along the LAC expeditiously and "a phased and stepwise de-escalation" in the border areas. "They reaffirmed that both sides should strictly respect and observe the line of actual control and should not take any unilateral action to alter the status quo and work together to avoid any incident in the future that could disturb peace and tranquillity in border areas," said the statement.
China said front-line troops are taking "effective measures" and making "progress" to disengage and ease the tensions in the Galwan Valley.
"China and India have made progress coming up with effective measures for frontline troops to disengage and de-escalate the border situation at the third commander-level talks between the two militaries on June 30," China"s Global Times quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian as saying.
The third round of talks between the commanders of the Indian and Chinese armies last week went on for 12 hours.
The Lieutenant-General-level talks held since the June 15 clash have focused on reducing tension at the Line of Actual Control - the de facto border between India and China - after weeks of a tense face-off including physical fights in early May.
Recent satellite images are proof of multiple Chinese intrusions across the LAC and the deployment of heavy weaponry and Chinese construction activity. The images had indicated that the Chinese had illegally occupied 423 metres of Indian territory in the Galwan Valley.
Images acquired by a national TV channel from Planet Labs showed a significant consolidation of Chinese forces in Ladakh"s Pangong Lake region where Indian soldiers are being stopped from patrolling after violent skirmishes in May in which dozens of Indian soldiers are believed to have been injured.