Chinese Leave Nubra, Standoff Over After 20 Days

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SRINAGAR

Hectic diplomacy eventually marked the end of a 20 days standoff between China and India when Chinese troops retreated from the Depsang Bulge area of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir to their bases on Sunday evening. It was possible only after two consecutive flag meetings on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

The resolution of the troop face-off, sources said came even as preparations were in full swing for foreign minister Salman Khurshid’s visit to Beijing on May 9 despite a growing political clamour to cancel the trip. Now, the visit will go ahead as scheduled, in preparation for the May 20 visit to India by Chinese premier Li Keqiang.
There was no immediate word on the conditions decided for the mutual withdrawal of the troops, confronting each other on the heights since April 15.

They added that both sides held the fourth and fifth flag meetings between local commanders, one after the other, over the weekend before the withdrawal began at about 7.30 pm on Sunday. The first three flag meetings, on April 18, 23 and 30, at Spanggur Gap between the Daulat Beg Oldi and Chushul sectors had failed to break the deadlock.

According to sources the Chinese side had been insisting that India dismantle its security and monitoring posts built in Chumar and other areas. India has resisted this because Chumar is considered to have strategic significance, particularly since Indian soldiers can monitor troop movements across the Line of Actual Control from there.

This ends the deadlock that began when Chinese troops set up camp 19 kms inside Indian territory in the Depsang Valley near the LAC, the de facto border. Soon after, India set up its own post just 500 metres away.

Sources said that both sides have now withdrawn their troops to positions held prior to April 15, the “status quo” that India had pushed for and China had not agreed to in three previous flag meetings.

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