Himalayan face-off with China ends as troops pull back news
06 May 2013

The three-week border stand-off between India and China in the frigid heights near Ladakh has ended, with both sides withdrawing troops from disputed areas.

After three flag meetings called by India failed to move China from its campsites well across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian Army retaliated by posting its own troops elsewhere along the line inside Chinese territory.

The issue was resolved late on Sunday after the Chinese side initiated two back-to-back flag meetings to discuss disengagement.

Another flag meeting has been scheduled to be held today on Monday to authenticate the withdrawal of troops.

"Both sides reached an agreement on Sunday night after a meeting was held between their border commanders. We will withdraw our troops and China will do the same," a senior Indian army official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Another army source told the agency that around 50 Chinese soldiers had withdrawn from the long-disputed Siachen glacier region and pulled down their tents close to an Indian military airstrip.

The Chinese intrusion was close to souring the increasingly cordial relations between Beijing and New Delhi, to the extent that Indian foreign minister S M Krishna's scheduled visit to Beijing this week was in jeopardy.

A foreign ministry spokesman today confirmed that Khurshid would be travelling to Beijing as scheduled on 9 May, where he would "discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of concern" with Chinese counterparts.

The defusing of border tension follows consultations between National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and his Chinese equivalent, with India's ambassador to China S Jaishankar as go-between.

However, China has still not given up on its demand that concrete structures and fortifications that have been built by India on its side of the border must be destroyed. Specific objections have been made to Indian positions in Chumar, from where Indian troops have a grandstand of Chinese movements.

This has raised hackles in India - not least because China has been rapidly building up infrastructure on its side of the Himalaya.

Small incursions of a few kilometres across the contested boundary are common but it is rare for either country to set up camps in disputed territory.

The Indian media had been clamouring for the government to take a tough line towards China, saying its latest incursion represented a significant raising of the stakes.

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Himalayan face-off with China ends as troops pull back