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Chinese envoy: Indian, Chinese troops disengaging in Ladakh

NEW DELHI (AP) — China’s ambassador to India said Friday that Indian and Chinese front-line troops are disengaging in accordance with an agreement reached by military commanders following a clash last month that left at least 20 soldiers dead in the Galwan Valley.

Ambassador Sun Weidong said the two countries should be partners rather than rivals and handle differences properly to bring their ties back on the right track.

In video remarks released in New Delhi, the Chinese envoy said the two countries have the wisdom and capability to properly handle differences.

“We should seek common development as partners rather than opponents or adversaries. Why should we fight against each other, which will only hurt those close to us and gladden the foes?” he said.

Indian officials say a standoff between the two armies began in early May when large contingents of Chinese soldiers entered deep inside Indian-controlled territory at three places in Ladakh.

The situation turned deadly when the rival troops engaged in hand-to-hand fighting in the Galwan Valley, where India is building a strategic road connecting the region to an airstrip close to China. India says 20 of its soldiers were killed and there were casualties on the Chinese side as well.

As part of an understanding reached in a series of meetings between army commanders from the two sides, soldiers have started pulling back at some points in the troubled area.

The Chinese envoy said the boundary question remains sensitive and complicated.

“We need to find a fair and reasonable solution mutually acceptable through equal consultation and peaceful negotiation. Pending an ultimate settlement, we both agree to work together to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas,” he said.

The disputed border covers about 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) of frontier that the two countries call the Line of Actual Control and stretches from Ladakh in the north to the Indian state of Sikkim in the northeast.

India and China fought a border war in 1962 that also spilled into Ladakh. The two countries have been trying to settle their border dispute since the early 1990s, without success.

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