No more eyeball-to-eyeball, but China evasive on pullout

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: May 07, 2013 09:17 IST
Aerial-view-of-five-tents-erected-by-intruding-Chinese-troops-inside-Indian-territory-in-Daulat-Beg-Oldi-sector-of-Ladakh-PTI

China and India have ended the standoff between their troops in the border area of Ladakh, a late night statement from the government said.

It was for the first time the Chinese government had come out with a statement on the issue that had soured relation between the two countries from the third week of April.

"China and India have reached an agreement on resolving the incident in the western section of the border. The frontier forces of the two countries have terminated the standoff at the Tiannan River Valley area," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said in a statement published by the state-run Xinhua news agency on Monday night.

Since troops from the two sides began facing off in the western section of the China-India border in April, both sides have moved forward and adopted a constructive and cooperative attitude and calmed the tensions through border-related mechanisms, diplomatic channels and border defense meetings, she was quoted in the statement as saying.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/5/07_05_13-metro11.gif

Hua said maintaining peace in the border areas works in the common interests of the two countries.

Earlier on Monday, China declined to say that the standoff between its troops and the Indian army in Ladakh had been resolved and instead garbed its comments in ambiguous terms.

Asked specifically whether Chinese troops had withdrawn from Indian territory, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the two sides had "properly handled the incident through relevant mechanisms like diplomatic channels and border meetings."

Even the late night statement did not share specific details.

After news of the intrusion by China - 19 km into Indian territory on April 15 - surfaced, Beijing maintained its troops had not crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the border that divides the two neighbours.

Given this stated position, it can only be speculated that this is the reason why China cannot now say that its troops had pulled back because that would be an admission of the LAC having been violated.

Differences over the alignment of the LAC are likely to top the agenda of external affairs minister Salman Khurshid during his May 9-10 visit to China.

Khurshid and China's foreign minister Wang Yi will discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of concern to both sides along with Chinese premier Li Keqiang's proposed visit to India later this month.

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