As India, China disengage in Hot Springs, Delhi spotlights other friction points
India said New Delhi and Beijing have agreed to take the talks forward and resolve the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control and restore peace and tranquillity in India-China border areas
NEW DELHI: India on Friday said disengagement of Indian and Chinese troops at Hot Springs will be completed by September 12 and both sides have agreed to take forward talks to resolve the remaining issues on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The two sides on Thursday announced the disengagement of troops in the area of Gogra-Hot Springs, also known as Patrolling Point-15 or PP-15, in line with the consensus reached at a meeting of senior military commanders on July 17.
“As per the agreement, the disengagement process in this area started on September 8, 2022, at 8:30am and will be completed by September 12, 2022,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
“With the resolution of the stand-off at PP-15, both sides mutually agreed to take the talks forward and resolve the remaining issues along LAC and restore peace and tranquillity in India-China border areas,” he said.
The development at PP-15 triggered speculation about the possibility of a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit at Samarkand next week.
People familiar with the matter described the disengagement at PP-15 as a “positive” development but noted that this did not mean everything was well in the border areas.
“A lot more needs to be done,” one of the people cited above said. In this context, they pointed to the need for further talks to address outstanding friction points on the LAC.
Hot Springs is only the third friction point in the Ladakh sector of the LAC where the two sides have agreed to withdraw frontline troops after more than two dozen rounds of diplomatic and military talks since the military standoff emerged in the open in May 2020. They earlier withdrew troops from the north and south banks of Pangong Lake and at Gogra.
A brutal clash between the two sides at Galwan Valley in June 2020 resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops and took bilateral ties to an all-time low. Both sides have arrayed almost 50,000 troops each in the Ladakh sector.
Bagchi said the 16th round of talks between the corps commanders of India and China armies was held at the Chushul Moldo meeting point on July 17. “Since then, the two sides maintained regular contact to build on the progress achieved during the talks to resolve the relevant issues along the LAC in the Western Sector of India-China border areas,” he said.
“As a result, both sides have now agreed on disengagement in the area of Gogra-Hot Springs (PP-15),” he said.
The two sides have agreed to “cease forward deployments in this area in a phased, coordinated and verified manner, resulting in the return of the troops of both sides to their respective areas”, Bagchi added.
The two sides have agreed that all temporary structures and other allied infrastructure created in the area by both sides “will be dismantled and mutually verified”.
“The landforms in the area will be restored to the pre-stand-off period by both sides,” Bagchi said.
“The agreement ensures that the LAC in this area will be strictly observed and respected by both sides and that there will be no unilateral change in status quo,” he said.
The Indian side has accused the Chinese side of unilaterally attempting to alter the status quo on the LAC, and external affairs minister S Jaishankar has linked the normalisation of overall ties to the restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas.