China and India have agreed to end a lengthy standoff at the Sikkim border that began in June, both countries said today. A statement from India suggested that both countries are withdrawing their troops from the remote Doklam Plateau, a region that both China and Bhutan claim as its own.
The tension began in June when Indian troops entered the plateau to stop China from building a new road which Delhi viewed as a serious security concern because of the access it provides to Beijing.
China, in a statement by its Foreign Ministry, did not comment on whether it will renew efforts to construct the road; when asked if there had been a "mutual disengagement" of troops a India claimed, a Chinese government spokesperson said patrols will continue in Doklam, but that "in accordance with the changes of the situation on the ground, China will make necessary adjustments and deployment in accordance with those changes". No details were offered.
Announcing a breakthrough this morning, India said the truce was reached by diplomatic talks. "On this basis, expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site at Doklam has been agreed to and is on-going," said the Foreign Ministry in a statement.
China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Chinese personnel on the ground have verified that Indian troops and equipment had pulled back in the morning from the area. "I am pleased to confirm that trespassing Indian personnel have all pulled back to the Indian side of the boundary," Ms Hua told a regular news briefing.
The breakthrough comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trip to China later this week for a summit of the BRICS group of nations. Indian sources said that soldiers have begun withdrawing, but the exercise will not be completed today.
The conflict, which was the worst in decades, saw 300 soldiers from each side, confronting each other on the remote Doklam Plateau in the Eastern Himalayas. India ignored repeated baiting and aggressive rhetoric by China to insist it would seek diplomatic channels to resolve the tension. India had also urged that both sides withdraw troops to engage in dialogue; Beijing insisted on the unilateral pulling out of India's soldiers.
Delhi says it had forewarned China that the road would be seen as a serious security concern because of the access it opens up to the narrow sliver of land called the "Chicken's Neck" that links India to its northeastern states. India also backed Bhutan's claim to the Doklam Plateau over China's.