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Kamis, 11 Februari 2021

India, China agree to pull back troops from disputed Himalayan lake after months-long standoff - ABC News

India and China have agreed to pull back troops from a bitterly contested lake area high in the western Himalayas.

Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh told parliament of the breakthrough on Thursday after a months-long standoff at the disputed border.

Mr Singh said the agreement over Pangong Tso, a glacial lake at 4,270 metres, had been reached after several rounds of talks between military commanders and diplomats from the nuclear-armed neighbours.

"Our sustained talks with China have led to agreement on disengagement on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake," he said.

China's defence ministry said frontline troops from the two countries had begun to pull back from the shores of the lake on Wednesday.

The standoff began in April last year when India said Chinese troops had intruded deep into its side of the Line of Actual Control, the de facto border in the Ladakh area in the western Himalayas.

Indian army soldiers dressed in military uniform carry the coffin of their colleague.
The first deadly confrontation on the disputed border since 1975 saw 20 Indian troops killed last June.(AP: Aftab Alam Siddiqui)

China said its troops were operating in its own area and accused Indian border guards of provocative actions.

Twenty Indian soldiers were killed last June when the two sides clashed with iron rods and stones in the Galwan Valley, the first combat losses on the border in 45 years.

China also suffered an unspecified number of casualties.

The two countries, who fought a war in 1962, have since moved thousands of troops, tanks, artillery guns and combat jets close to the border.

Mr Singh said the Indian government had told Beijing that peace and tranquillity had been seriously disturbed by the actions of Chinese troops and bilateral ties had suffered.

'Troops on both sides should vacate'

"To ensure disengagement in friction points along the LAC, it was our view that troops of both sides, who are now in close proximity, should vacate the forward deployments made in 2020 and return to the permanent and accepted bases," he said.

Pangong lake is a finger of water extending from China's Tibet Autonomous Region to India's Ladakh region.

A man rides a bicycle towards snow-capped mountains in Aksai Chin
No official border through the Himalayas has been agreed by the two countries despite a 60-year truce.(Flickr)

In August, Indian troops occupied heights on the southern banks of the lake in retaliation against Chinese troops advancing further along the north bank.

Mr Singh said the two sides had agreed to dismantle defence structures they had built on the two sides of the lake, two-thirds of which China controls.

Once the disengagement had been completed at the lake, military commanders would meet within 48 hours to discuss pull-back from other areas, Singh said.

India and China have not been able to agree on their 3,500-kilometre-long border since the war in 1962.

Reuters

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2021-02-11 11:53:00Z
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