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China, India agree to de-escalate border tensions

India and China on Wednesday agreed to de-escalate tensions arising from their dispute over the Himalayan border following the death of 20 Indian soldiers in what has been the deadliest confrontation between the neighbours in decades.

New Delhi, 17 June 2020 (dpa/MIA) – India and China on Wednesday agreed to de-escalate tensions arising from their dispute over the Himalayan border following the death of 20 Indian soldiers in what has been the deadliest confrontation between the neighbours in decades.

The violence erupted at the Galwan Valley in Ladakh on Monday night, where the two sides have been in a stand-off since early May.

Over 40 Chinese soldiers were killed or injured, Indian media outlets reported, but Beijing refused to confirm or deny the casualties.

India and China agreed to ease tensions after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, over the phone on Wednesday afternoon.

The two sides agreed that they will jointly abide by the consensus reached at a recent military-level meeting to “disengage” troops and calm the situation as soon as possible, a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

In its statement, the Indian Foreign Ministry said both sides would implement the understanding reached on disengagement, and “neither side would take any action to escalate matters, and instead ensure peace and tranquillity as per bilateral agreements and protocols.”

India and China should instead strengthen communication and coordination through existing channels to resolve differences, Wang said during the discussions with Subrahmanyam.

Earlier Wednesday, in a warning to China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India would not compromise on its territorial integrity and was capable of giving a fitting reply if provoked.

India’s Foreign Ministry blamed Chinese troops for trying to “unilaterally change the status quo” of the de facto border, known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), rebutting China’s claim that Indian soldiers had crossed the border.

A number of protests against China were reported across Indian cities on Wednesday, including one near the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, where demonstrators condemned the killing of the soldiers and demanded a ban on Chinese goods.

Modi, who convened a top-level security meet on Tuesday night, had called for an all-party meeting on Friday to discuss the border confrontation and ties with China.

Four Indian soldiers were in critical condition, the ANI new agency reported Wednesday, amid indications that the death toll could rise.

The Indian army said the incident involved no shooting, while Indian media reported that there was hand-to-hand combat involving batons and stones.

India and China fought a brief border war in 1962 and dispute several sections along their ill-defined, 3,500-kilometre border.

There have been skirmishes after then, but no loss of life at the borders since 1975, when four Indian soldiers were killed in an ambush by Chinese troops.

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