İrem UZUN -TDO- India and China have agreed to disengage troops from a bitterly contested lake area in the western Himalayas, the Indian defense minister said, in a breakthrough after a months-long standoff on the disputed border. Rajnath Singh told Parliament on Thursday the accord had been reached after several rounds of talks between military commanders and diplomats.
India-China tensions spiked in May last year after skirmishes in the Pangong Lake region, and worsened after the June 14 clash in Galwan Valley, in which 20 Indian soldiers died for the country. Two weeks ago the Indian Army confirmed the two sides clashed once more - this time along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Sikkim. The Army said it was a "minor face-off" with "insignificant and minor injuries" and that tensions were "resolved by local commanders as per established protocols".
The talks - the ninth round lasted for over 15 hours - have been aimed at defusing tension along the LAC in eastern Ladakh-and finding a solution to the nine-month stand-off. In November last year senior government sources said a three-phase plan for disengagement had been readied but there was no agreement on implementation. That plan included both sides pulling back armor - tanks and armored personnel carriers - from close to the LAC.