India, China agree on plan to pull back troops, tanks from Pangong?

India and China, reportedly, agreed to constitute a mechanism to verify adherence

pangong rep Pangong Tso lake | AP

Indian and Chinese Army officers have been holding talks for months to resolve the standoff in Ladakh. News agency ANI reported on Wednesday India and China have agreed to a three-step disengagement plan for the region around the Pangong Tso lake area.

ANI reported the disengagement plan was brought up at the eighth meeting of the corp commanders of both armies on November 6. The disengagement plan involves withdrawal of troops and armoured vehicles such as tanks and personnel carriers from their deployed positions over a period of one week.

ANI reported, "As per the discussions, the disengagement of tanks and armoured personnel carriers was to be carried out within one day." The tanks and armoured personnel carriers will be “moved back from their frontline deployment to a significant distance from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by both sides”.

"In the second step to be carried out near the northern bank on the Pangong Lake, both sides were supposed to withdraw around 30 per cent of troops every day for three days. The Indian side would be coming close to its administrative Dhan Singh Thapa post while the Chinese had consented to go back to their position east of Finger 8. In the third and last step, the two sides were to withdraw from their respective positions from the frontline along the southern bank of Pangong Lake area, which includes the heights and territories around Chushul and Rezang La area," ANI added.

ANI reported India and China had also agreed to constitute a mechanism to verify adherence to the disengagement plan through meetings and use of drones.

The news of the new disengagement plan comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping were face to face during a virtual summit of leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation on Tuesday. Modi and Xi Jinping will virtually face each other again on November 17 during BRICS summit and the G-20 on November 21.

Earlier, the Chinese side was not willing to discuss the disengagement process from the Finger areas of Pangong Tso, an issue which India has been flagging for some time. Moreover, the Chinese side was insisting the Indian Army vacant the dominant heights on the south bank of Pangong Tso.

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