NEW DELHI/BEIJING – Indian and Chinese military commanders have agreed to disengage forces facing off over a disputed stretch of border where a clash last week left 20 Indian soldiers dead, an Indian government source in New Delhi said on Tuesday.
Speaking in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the two sides had agreed to take measures to ease tensions.
“There was a mutual consensus to disengage,” the Indian source said, commenting on the outcome of a meeting between commanders on border on Monday that lasted almost 11 hours.
China’s Zhao described recent media reports of 40 Chinese casualties in the clash as “fake news”.
China has not disclosed how many casualties its side suffered in the brutal fighting on June 15, when soldiers beat each other with rocks and wooden sticks embedded with nails, while observing a long-held protocol to avoid using firearms.
Troops from the nuclear-armed neighbours have been facing-off in several areas in the Ladakh region in the western Himalayas since last month, and the clash in the Galwan valley last week was the deadliest in more than five decades.
Yet, the Indian source said Monday’s parley on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border, was conducted in a “cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere.”
“Modalities for disengagement from all friction areas in Eastern Ladakh were discussed and will be taken forward by both the sides,” the Indian source said.
In previous rounds of talks, China had asked India to stop all construction work in what it says is Chinese territory.
For its part, India has been pushing China to withdraw its troops back to where they were in April.
June 23, 2020
Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani & Simon Cameron-MooreOur Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.