India, China start disengagement along Pangong lake: Chinese Defense Ministry
In a major breakthrough in efforts to resolve the months-long Indo-China border conflict, China's Defense Ministry announced that both Indian and Chinese troops have started the disengagement process from the north and south banks of Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh. The situation along the border—the Line of Actual Control (LAC)—had remained tense since last May when Indian and Chinese troops had faced off.
The spokesperson of China's Ministry of National Defense, Wu Qian, said in a statement that both sides started the "synchronized and organized" disengagement process on Wednesday. This move is in accordance with the consensus reached by both sides at the ninth round of China-India corps commander-level talks, the statement said. The ninth round of talks was held on January 24.
There was no immediate statement from the Indian Army or Ministry of Defence on the Chinese announcement. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's office tweeted saying, "Raksha Mantri Shri @rajnathsingh will make a statement in Rajya Sabha tomorrow regarding 'Present Situation in Eastern Ladakh'."
The ninth round of Indo-China talks—that lasted for over 15 hours—had ended on a "positive, practical, and constructive" note, India had said, adding that both sides had agreed to "push for an early disengagement." Both sides had been holding several rounds of diplomatic and military-level talks to resolve the conflict, however, fresh skirmishes had broken out even as the talks were underway.
Tensions along the LAC intensified after clashes between the two forces at various locations in early-May last year. The series of escalations included a fatal clash that erupted in the Galwan Valley on June 15, which led to the martyrdom of 20 Indian Army soldiers and a disputed number of Chinese fatalities. Both sides have blamed each other for escalating the conflict.
Last month, the Indian Army had confirmed that India and China had clashed along the LAC in Sikkim. The Army had said that it was a "minor face-off" with "insignificant and minor injuries," adding that tensions were "resolved by local commanders as per established protocols."