Doklam standoff over: India, China agree to pull back troops
August 28, 2017
India and China have agreed to ‘expeditious disengagement’ of border personnel at Doklam, New Delhi said on Monday, a week before the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa summit in China that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend.
In a major diplomatic breakthrough, the ministry of external affairs said the two countries had maintained ‘diplomatic communication’ and were able to express their views, concerns and interests.
Indian Army sources said the process to withdraw troops — India had deployed about 350 Army personnel in the area — from Doklam near Sikkim was underway.
Troops of the two countries have been locked in a standoff in Doklam since June 16 after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the disputed area.
The MEA statement did not explicitly say if Chinese and Indian troops have withdrawn from the area but China claimed in a statement on Monday that Indian troops have indeed pulled back.
China, however, remained ambiguous about the status of its own troops.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing, “Chinese troops on the ground have verified it. China continues to exercise sovereignty. China will make adjustments according to the situation.”
Asked if the Chinese statement means that China has not made any concession, officials in New Delhi said expeditious disengagement implies withdrawal of both parties because a unilateral withdrawal by India would not have needed or required an agreement with China.
Troops of the two countries have been locked in a standoff in Doklam near Sikkim since June after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the disputed area.
‘In recent weeks, India and China have maintained diplomatic communication in respect of the incident at Doklam. During these communications, we were able to express our views and convey our concerns and interests.
‘On this basis, expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site in Dokalam has been agreed to and is on-going,’ the MEA statement said.
Hua, the Chinese spokesperson, said Indian soldiers and equipment had been pulled back to the Indian side of the border.
The Chinese side, she added, continues to patrol the Doklam area.
“The Chinese side continues to uphold sovereignty and territorial integrity according to the historical convention,” she said.
The BRICS summit, that brings together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, will be held in the Chinese city of Xiamen from September 3-5.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj recently said both sides should first pull back their troops for any talks to take place, and favoured a peaceful resolution of the border standoff.(Agencies)