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India says Indian, Chinese troops disengaging from standoff

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s external affairs minister said Saturday that Indian and Chinese troops are disengaging from a monthslong standoff along the countries’ undemarcated border following a clash last month that left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead.

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s remarks came a day after China’s ambassador to India said that Indian and Chinese front-line troops are disengaging in accordance with an agreement reached by their military commanders.

“It’s very much a work in progress,” Jaishankar said, adding that both sides agreed on the need to disengage because troops are deployed very close to each other.

The Chinese ambassador, Sun Weidong, said Friday that the two countries should be partners rather than rivals and handle their differences properly to bring their ties back on the right track.

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 that 20 of its soldiers were killed in the June 15 clash and that there were casualties on the Chinese side as well.

China hasn’t confirmed any casualties on its side.

Through video conferencing on Friday, senior foreign ministry officials from the two countries reviewed the progress made in the disengagement process by the two armies at the disputed border, known as the Line of Actual Control.

The disputed border covers about 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) of frontier 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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