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November 14, 2020

India, China close in on plan to end months of military standoff

 
November 14, 2020

NEW DELHI: Seeking to end a dangerous military standoff in the western Himalayas, India and China are formulating a plan that involves creating no-patrol zones, pulling back tanks and artillery, and using drones to verify the withdrawal, Indian officials say.

After months of fitful progress, the two sides are discussing a staggered disengagement from the high-altitude desert where temperatures have dipped to 18 degrees below Celsius, three Indian government officials said.

“We have a firm plan for disengagement on the table, it is being internally discussed on both sides,” said one of the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Under the plan that was shared during a meeting of top commanders last Friday, both sides will pull back from the contested Pangong Tso lake area and establish a buffer zone.Chinese soldiers will dismantle defence structures on several hilly spurs overlooking the lake and pull back, the officials briefed on the discussions said.

“When we have something to share, we will share. Discussions are ongoing,” foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said.The officials said that military commanders from both sides could meet within a week for further discussions on disengagement. India’s defence and foreign ministries declined to comment on the specifics of the latest negotiations. While there have been recurrent incidents down the years, troops from both sides have abided by a long-standing protocol to avoid firing weapons on the high altitude border, although some warning shots were fired in September.