Gogra-Hot Springs disengagement: Will breakthrough set stage for Modi-Xi meet at SCO summit?
India and China will complete the disengagement process of their troops from the Gogra-Hot Springs area (Patrolling Point-15) in Ladakh by September 12, Monday. The two sides started the withdrawal process from there on Thursday. The two armies will also dismantle temporary structures raised there during the stand-off lasting more than two years.
The pull back from the Gogra Hot Springs (Patrolling Point-15) came days ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Uzbekistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are likely to take part in the annual event. However it is not clear whether the two leaders will hold bilateral talks on the sideline of the SCO summit on September 15-16. They will also take part in another high level meet , G-20 summit in November in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, China on Friday refused to comment on a possible meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Uzbekistan next week, but said the disengagement troops in the Gogra-Hotsprings area of eastern Ladakh will send a “positive signal” to improve the strained bilateral ties.
“I have no information to offer at this moment,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a briefing in Beijing when asked whether India and China are in communication about a possible Modi-Xi meeting on the side-lines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit to be held in Samarkand on September 15 to 16.
China and India are important members of SCO. Both support Uzbekistan as rotating chair for this year’s summit. “We hope for the greater development of the organization,” she said. Speculation is rife about the meeting between Modi and Xi as India and China on Thursday announced the disengagement of their troops. The Beijing-headquartered SCO is an eight-member economic and security bloc consisting of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.
In Delhi, announcing the schedule of disengagement, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said: “As per the agreement, the disengagement process in this area started on 08 September 2022 at 0830 hrs and will be completed by 12 September 2022. The two sides have agreed to cease forward deployments in this area in a phased, coordinated and verified manner, resulting in the return of the troops of both sides to their respective areas.
“It has been agreed that all temporary structures and other allied infrastructure created in the area by both sides will be dismantled and mutually verified. The landforms in the area will be restored to pre-stand-off period by both sides. The agreement ensures that the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in this area will be strictly observed and respected by both sides, and that there will be no unilateral change in status quo. With the resolution of stand-off at PP-15, both sides mutually agreed to take the talks forward and resolve the remaining issues along LAC and restore peace and tranquility in India-China border areas.”
The two sides had agreed to maintain a no-patrolling zone in these areas as a confidence building measure. Now, the armies of the two countries maintain a buffer zone of three to ten kms on either side of the LAC in these sectors to avoid any confrontation. However, stand-offs still persist at the Depsang valley and Demchok. At present, more than 50,000 troops each from both the sides are deployed at the LAC in Ladakh for the last two years with heavy weapons.
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