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India, China Border Process Under Way  07/06 06:28

   

   NEW DELHI (AP) -- India and China said Monday they had made progress 
disengaging frontline troops from a months-long standoff along a disputed part 
of their border where a brawl in June left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

   Special representatives on the border issue, India's national security 
advisor Ajit Doval and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, spoke by phone on 
Sunday about the issues along the frontier known as the Line of Actual Control, 
according to India's Foreign Ministry.

   The representatives agreed that "maintenance of peace and tranquility in the 
India-China border areas was essential for the further development of our 
bilateral relations" and to "complete the ongoing disengagement process along 
the LAC expeditiously," the ministry said Monday in a statement.

   An Indian Defense Ministry official told The Associated Press that Chinese 
troops were observed "removing tents and structures" near the Galwan Valley 
along the disputed border. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't 
authorized to speak to reporters.

   Asked about a Chinese withdrawal, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao 
Lijian said only that the two sides "made positive progress in disengaging 
frontline troops and easing the border situation with effective measures" in a 
third round of military talks June 30.

   Both sides blamed each other for the June 15 clash in the remote river 
valley in the Karakoram mountains of Ladakh where India is building a strategic 
road connecting the region to an airstrip close to China.

   Soldiers fought in hand-to-hand combat with fists and clubs, but not with 
firearms, deferring to an agreement not to use them. India said 20 of its 
soldiers were killed, as were Chinese soldiers. Chinese officials have not 
confirmed any casualties.

   Chris Biggers, senior analyst at the geospatial intelligence company HawkEye 
360, has said a review of satellite images showed China was moving construction 
equipment, soldiers and military hardware toward the Line of Actual Control 
before and after the clash.

   China and India fought a 1962 war over their disputed border, an area that 
covers nearly 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles). That fighting ended in an uneasy 
truce and the creation of the Line of Actual Control, which stretches from 
Ladakh in the north to the Indian state of Sikkim in the northeast.

   The two countries have been trying to settle their border dispute since the 
early 1990s, without success.

   Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unannounced visit Friday to a 
military base in Ladakh, telling troops that the "days of expansionism are 
over."

   "Expansionism creates danger for world peace. This is an era of development. 
Expansionist forces have either lost or forced to turn back," he said in an 
apparent reference to China.

 
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