NEW DELHI (AP) – The foreign ministers of India and China have agreed to withdraw tens of thousands of soldiers from their tense border, maintain a reasonable distance and ease tensions in the cold and desert region of Ladakh, where both sides had in June their deadliest showdown in decades.
The ministers of India, S. Jaishankar, and of China, Wang Yi, met in the Russian capital on Thursday evening and agreed that “the current situation in the border areas is of no interest to either party.” according to a joint statement issued Friday.
Since last week, the Asian giants have accused each other of invading each other’s territory with their soldiers and firing warning shots for the first time in 45 years, threatening to spark a full-scale military conflict.
The foreign ministers did not set any timetable for the withdrawal of tens of thousands of soldiers who have been trapped in a dead end since May, but agreed that “both sides will abide by all existing agreements and protocols on border issues between China and India. , maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas and avoid any action that could aggravate the situation ”.
The disputed 3,500-kilometer (2,175-mile) border separates Chinese and Indian-controlled territories from Ladakh in the west to the eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in full.
The latest showdown is over parts of a pristine landscape that features the highest airstrip in the world and a glacier that feeds one of the largest irrigation systems on the planet.
Both parties accuse each other of provocative behavior, including crossing into each other’s territory, and both have promised to protect their territorial integrity.
Rival soldiers clashed in May and June with clubs, stones, and fists. A clash on a high hill on June 15 left 20 Indian soldiers dead. China reported no casualties.