India and China will complete the disengagement process in the Gogra-Hotsprings area in eastern Ladakh by September 12, the External Affairs Ministry said in New Delhi on Friday.
The ministry’s comment came a day after the Indian and Chinese armies announced that they have begun to disengage from the Gogra-Hotsprings Patrolling Point 15, where the two sides have been locked in a standoff for over two years.
The announcement of the disengagement of troops came around a week ahead of the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Uzbekistan which is expected to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping among other leaders of the grouping.
In Beijing, when asked whether India and China are in communication about a possible Modi-Xi meeting on the sidelines of the SCO summit to be held in Samarkand on September 15 to 16, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a briefing that she has “no information to offer at this moment.” “We believe the disengagement will be a positive development and is conducive to peace and tranquility in the border areas, and China also hopes to work with India to uphold peace and stability,” she added.
Responding to a question on the disengagement process, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said,”It has been agreed that all temporary structures and other allied infrastructure created in the area by both sides will be dismantled and mutually verified. The landforms in the area will be restored to the pre-standoff period by both sides.” The two sides have also agreed to take the talks forward and resolve remaining issues and restore peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in India-China border areas, he said.
“The two sides have agreed to cease forward deployments in this area in a phased, coordinated and verified manner, resulting in the return of the troops of both sides to their respective areas,” he added.
Bagchi said the agreement ensures that the LAC in this area will be strictly observed and respected by both sides and that there will be no unilateral change in the status quo.
He said the 16th round of talks between the Corps Commanders of India and China was held at the Chushul Moldo meeting point on July 17, 2022.
“Since then, the two sides had maintained regular contact to build on the progress achieved during the talks to resolve the relevant issues along the LAC in the Western Sector of India-China border areas,” he said.
As a result, both sides have now agreed on disengagement in the area of Gogra-Hotsprings (PP-15), he said.
Bagchi said as per the agreement,”the disengagement process in this area started on September 8 at 8:30 am and will be completed by September 12″.
“With the resolution of the stand-off at PP-15, both sides mutually agreed to take the talks forward and resolve the remaining issues along LAC and restore peace and tranquility in India-China border areas,” he said.
In a statement in Beijing, the Chinese defence ministry said the Chinese and Indian troops in the area of Jianan Daban have begun to disengage in a coordinated and planned way, which is conducive to the peace and tranquility in the border areas.
Indian officials said that the Jianan Daban area referred to by China is the same as Patrolling Point-15 in the Gogra-Hotsprings area referred to by the Indian Army press release issued on Thursday.