India and China Friday began pulling back troops locked eyeball-to-eyeball for almost two weeks in Ladakh, a face-off that also cast a shadow over Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit.
The standoff Chumar in eastern Ladakh ended after external affairs ministers of the two countries met in New York on the sidelines of the UN general assembly.
“I am happy to tell you that both nations have sat down and resolved the issue. Timelines have been decided,” India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told reporters in New York.
China confirmed the row had been resolved. “As the Indian foreign minister said the dispute has effectively been managed and the border area is in tranquility,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in Beijing.
Calling the resolution of the crisis a “big accomplishment”, Swaraj said the two armies would disengage in a phased manner over the next four days.
“The bad phase will end by September 30,” news agency PTI quoted her as saying. The minister said both the countries would return to the September 1 positions.
The situation in Ladakh had flared up during Xi’s visit, forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take it up with the Chinese leader, who sits at the top of China’s 1.5-million strong army.
Both Delhi and Beijing appeared to have worked out a middle ground to resolve the dispute. The possibility of India razing a temporary construction in Tible area as a trade-off couldn’t be ruled out, sources in Delhi said.
The hut, they said, came up after September 1.
Tensions escalated in Chumar on September 10 when Indian forces found that Chinese troops had moved heavy machinery to construct a temporary road deep inside what India considers to be its territory. The Chinese, it is learnt, have agreed not to build the road.
India and China don’t have a clearly marked border along the Himalayan region and both sides have a different perception of the Line of Actual Control -- as the de facto boundary is known -- and that often leads to incursions.