India, China agree to disengage from tense border standoff

India, China agree to disengage from tense border standoff
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The Chinese and Indian foreign ministries agreed that both sides should disengage from a tense border standoff, following increased tensions that arose along regions of the Himalayas.

In June, unlikely physical combat between both country's armed forces resulted in at least 20 dead among members of both sides.

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met in Moscow on Thursday night and agreed that "the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side," they announced in a joint statement, The Associated Press reported.

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The dispute is held over border territory that separates Chinese and Indian land from Ladakh in the west and extends to the eastern Indian state Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims domain over.

The foreign ministers did not set a clear timeline for disengaging the tens of thousands of troops that have been at odds since May.

However, they agreed "both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters."

The two countries accuse the other of provocative behavior, including crossing into each other's territory, as India and China have sworn to protect territorial integrity over the roughly 2,175-mile area.

A retired Indian army general said the process of resolving the territorial dispute would be long and complicated, adding that focusing on "disengagement is the first and the most important step that will guide the de-escalation process," Vinod Bhatia said.

An official speaking for Jaishankar echoed Bhatia's advice, saying disengagement of troops at all flashpoints is necessary to prevent further incidents.

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Wang said the most pressing issue is for both sides to not break past agreements, like open fire at the border.

"Also, we should withdraw the personnel and equipment completely from the front line. In this way, we can implement the consensus and restore peace and stability along the border," he said.

The dispute between the border has been ongoing since the nations fought a border war in 1962 that ended in a fragile truce.