China and India have agreed to pull back troops from another friction point along their disputed Himalayan border after a weekend meeting of top military commanders from both sides, according to senior Indian officials with knowledge of the matter.
Soldiers will move away from the vicinity of the area where at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed in June 2020 in one of the most violent clashes between the two nuclear-armed neighbors in over 40 years, the officials said Tuesday, asking not to be named citing rules for speaking to the media.
The development comes a day after New Delhi and Beijing issued an unusual joint statement describing their 12th round of discussions between their military officials as “constructive,” suggesting the rivals had found some common ground after more than a year of tensions.
A demilitarized zone will be created after the troops and artillery withdraw and the area will not be patrolled by either side to prevent rival soldiers from coming face to face, the officials said. Similar no-patrol-zones exist in other disputed sections of the border.
Indian Army Spokesperson Col. Sudhir Chamoli didn’t immediately comment on the reports.
Even as the two sides inch toward some sort of resolution of their conflict, the People’s Liberation Army late Monday released a new video clip of last June’s brutal clash in the Galwan Valley. Soldiers were throwing stones and waving bayonets and wading through waist-deep water in the clip posted by the official Weibo account of Henan provincial military district, as part of an interview with the family members of one of the four Chinese soldiers killed in the incident.
The neighbors have been locked in a standoff along their disputed 3,488 kilometer border for more than a year. New Delhi recently redirected an additional 50,000 troops to its northern frontier.
In February, soldiers pulled back from Pangong Tso — a glacial lake some 4,270 meters above sea level — marking out a zone that neither side patrols.
Soldiers from both sides are still in rifle range of each other at several points along their high-altitude frontier. Disagreements over the sequence of withdrawing troops, tanks and artillery pieces from areas of dispute has slowed progress in talks.
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