India, China troops begin disengagement ahead of SCO meeting

New Delhi: Indian and Chinese troops have started withdrawing from Gogra-Hot Springs in eastern Ladakh after reaching a consensus in the 16th round of military talks, the two sides said in a joint statement Thursday. The Chinese forces in this area are likely to return to pre-2020 positions, sources have said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to meet all the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders in Samarkand on Sept 15-16 as India is taking over the Presidency of the SCO this month. The joint statement on Thursday about the agreement on disengagement has prepared the ground for a one-on-one meeting between PM Modi and President Xi at Samarkand. China generally avoids issuing joint statements and sticks to its own interpretation of the issues therein.

With the process of disengagement on the border set in motion in Eastern Ladakh, two Asian giants will now be able to focus on immediate pressing issues such as economy, trade, and joint efforts to make the 21st century, “Asia’s century” but suspicion always remains wherever China is involved.

“On September 8, 2022, 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-Hot Springs (PP-15) have begun to disengage in a coordinated and planned way, which is conducive to the peace and tranquility in the border areas,” the joint statement said.

India and China have been able to disengage so far from the Galwan region where fierce clashes between soldiers of both sides took place in June 2020, in which 20 Indian soldiers laid down their lives for the country. Over 40 Chinese soldiers were reportedly killed or injured.

There have also been breakthroughs on both banks of Pangong Lake further south in Ladakh. However, Chinese soldiers are still believed to hold large swathes of Indian Territory to the north in the Depsang plains.

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