Chinese army removing tents, seen withdrawing from Galwan

Doval, Wang hold telephonic talks

NEW DELHI, July 6:
In the first sign of de-escalation of tension in Eastern Ladakh, the Chinese army has removed tents and started to withdraw its troops from Galwan valley as decided during high-level talks between the two militaries, Government sources said today.
Galwan Valley was the site of a violent hand-to-hand clash between the two militaries on June 15 that left 20 Indian soldiers dead. Click here to watch video
China’s People’s Liberation Army was seen removing tents and structures at patrolling point 14, the sources said, adding rearward movement of vehicles of Chinese troops was seen in the general area of Galwan and Gogra Hot Springs.
They said disengagement of Chinese troops in the area has begun as per decisions arrived at during the Corps Commander-level talks.
The sources said there was clear sign of withdrawal of structures and troops from the patrolling point 14 in Galwan valley and that they are likely to move back more than a kilometre in the area.
The sources said it would not be possible to know immediately how much distance the Chinese troops are going back and that there will be clarity only after a proper verification process is conducted.
The clashes in Galwan Valley took place after Indian troops strongly opposed the erection of a surveillance post by the Chinese side near patrolling point 14.
It is not immediately known whether the de-escalation initiative has also been started in the Pangong Tso area where the Chinese side has significantly enhanced its presence, particularly in areas between Finger 4 and Finger 8.
On June 30, the Indian and Chinese armies held the third round of Lt General-level talks during which both sides agreed on an “expeditious, phased and step wise” de-escalation as a “priority” to end the standoff.
Meanwhile, a day before Chinese military began pulling back from Galwan valley in Eastern Ladakh, NSA Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi agreed on an expeditious withdrawal of troops, holding that a complete disengagement at the “earliest” was necessary for full restoration of peace in border areas and both sides should not allow differences to become disputes.
Doval and Wang, who are special representatives for boundary talks between the two countries, held a telephonic conversation on Sunday during which they had a “frank and in-depth exchange” of views on the recent developments in the western sector, the Ministry of External Affairs said today.
In the talks, Doval and Wang re-affirmed that both sides should “strictly respect” and observe the Line of Actual Control and should not take any unilateral action to alter the status quo, the MEA said.
The two special representatives agreed to continue their conversations to ensure “full and enduring restoration” of peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas.
It was the first time that Doval and Wang held talks during the ongoing stand-off.
Government sources said India is strictly monitoring whether China was withdrawing its troops from friction points, adding global support to New Delhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strong message during his visit to Ladakh last week may have had some impact on Beijing agreeing to move back its army.
The MEA said it was agreed to “take guidance from the consensus of leaders” that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in border areas was essential for the further development of bilateral ties and that two sides should not allow differences to become disputes.
“Therefore, they agreed that it was necessary to ensure at the earliest complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquillity,” it said.
“In this regard they further agreed that both sides should complete the ongoing disengagement process along the LAC expeditiously. The two sides should also ensure a phased and stepwise de-escalation in the India-China border areas,” the MEA added.
It was re-affirmed that both sides should “strictly respect and observe” the LAC and should not take any unilateral action to alter the status quo, besides working together to avoid any incident in the future that could disturb peace and tranquillity in border areas.
The MEA said the two special representatives agreed that the diplomatic and military officials should continue their discussions, including under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China border affairs, and implement the understandings reached in a timely manner.
“It was also agreed that the two special representatives will continue their conversations to ensure full and enduring restoration of peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas in accordance with the bilateral agreements and protocols,” the MEA said.(PTI)