India, China Start Easing Border Standoff in Himalayas
Overhead road signage stands at the side of Tsongmo Lake en route to the Nathula Pass. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

India, China Start Easing Border Standoff in Himalayas

(Bloomberg) -- India and China have taken steps to de-escalate a six week-long standoff in the Himalayan region after a weekend meeting of senior military officials.

Both sides have moved back forces in Ladakh ahead of another round of talks between senior military personnel, the second in less than a week, Indian officials with knowledge of the matter said. The discussions on Wednesday will decide on de-escalation at another location around the Galwan River -- a region that was a key trigger for the 1962 Sino-Indian War, they said, asking not to be identified as the talks were private.

“Recently through diplomatic and military channels, China and India held effective communications on issues on the border and reached significant consensus,” China foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing in Beijing Wednesday. “The two sides are following this consensus to ease the situation on the border.”

Indian Army spokesman Aman Anand declined to comment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to avoid a confrontation with China at a time when his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has come under criticism at home. India is adding as many as 10,000 infections daily and has reported 276,583 total cases, the fifth highest tally in the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The nuclear armed neighbors share a 3,488 kilometer (2,167 miles) unmarked border. Troops, tanks and armored personal carriers were moved close the border at multiple locations after armies clashed several times in disputed areas. The most flashpoint was Pangong Tso -- a glacial lake at 14000 ft along the border -- in the first week of May. Scores of soldiers on both sides were injured in the fighting.

The stand-off at Pangong Tso is likely to be discussed separately between senior military commanders, the officials said. The date for the meeting hasn’t yet been fixed. Apart from the military level talks, India and China have been engaging each other at the diplomatic level as well.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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