India and China have agreed on disengagement in the area of Gogra-Hot Springs and will complete the process by September 12, 2022, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Friday. The process began on September 8.
The ministry’s comment came a day after the Indian and Chinese armies announced that they have begun to disengage from the Gogra-Hotsprings Patrolling Point 15, where the two sides have been locked in a standoff for over two years.
The announcement of the disengagement of troops came around a week ahead of the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Uzbekistan which is expected to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping among other leaders of the grouping.
The two sides have also agreed to take the talks forward and resolve remaining issues and restore peace and tranquility along LAC in India-China border areas, the MEA 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,” the official spokesperson of the MEA Arindam Bagchi said in a statement.
“It has been 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-standoff period by both sides,” Bagchi said in response to queries on the issue.
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 the status quo.
He said the 16th round of talks between the Corps Commanders of India and China was held at the Chushul Moldo meeting point on July 17, 2022.
“Since then, the two sides had 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-Hotsprings (PP-15), he said.
Bagchi said as per the agreement, “the disengagement process in this area started on September 8 at 8:30 am and will be completed by September 12”.
“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 tranquility in India-China border areas,” he said.
In a statement in Beijing, the Chinese defence ministry said the Chinese and Indian troops in the area of Jianan Daban have begun to disengage in a coordinated and planned way, which is conducive to the peace and tranquility in the border areas.
Indian officials said that the Jianan Daban area referred to by China is the same as Patrolling Point-15 in the Gogra-Hotsprings area referred to by the Indian Army press release issued on Thursday.
Military commanders from both sides have held 16 rounds of talks since the worst clashes in more than forty years between the two nuclear-armed neighbors erupted in the summer of 2020. The site of the latest disengagement is near the area where at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed in June 2020. It’s also the most significant effort to diffuse tensions since both sides moved back troops from another disputed border point in August last year.
Both sides have moved back troops from a few friction areas along their disputed 3,488 kilometer (2,170 mile) border — but tens of thousands of soldiers remain deployed toe-to-toe in the hostile terrain.