World War 3: 30,000 Indian soldiers stand eyeball to eyeball with Chinese troops on border

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India-Asian News Service reported 30,000 Indian soldiers were lined along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh after an estimated 20 Indian troops were killed on the Himalayan border in skirmishes with China last month. The sighting comes after China issued a statement saying it would “defend its territorial sovereignty” following talks between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Minister Wang Yi to calm tensions.

Meanwhile, Indian government sources said China had began pulling back troops from along its contested border with India on Monday following the clash between the two countries last month in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.

Troops fought for hours with rods and clubs on the night of June 15, with some falling to their deaths in the freezing waters of the Galwan river in the western Himalayas.

China has said it suffered casualties but has yet to release numbers.

But the Indian deaths are the highest along the border in more than five decades, a dramatic escalation that led to weeks of talks between senior military officials on how to ease tensions.

Indian government sources said the Chinese military was seen dismantling tents and structures at a site in the Galwan valley, near to where the latest clash took place, on Monday.

Vehicles were seen withdrawing from the area, as well as at Hotsprings and Gogra – two other contested border zones – the sources said.

The news comes after India’s national security advisor Mr Doval and Wang Yi, one of China’s top diplomats, had “a frank and in-depth exchange of views” on Sunday regarding the border.

Both sides said they had agreed to a significant disengagement of troops. India’s note also said both sides had agreed to respect the existing LAC reflecting positions along the contested section of border.

But this reference was not included in Beijing’s note on the meeting.

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In response to a question on whether China had moved back equipment in the Galwan valley, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said both sides were “taking effective measures to disengage and ease the situation on the border”.

Mr Zhao told a news conference on Monday: ”We hope India will meet China halfway and take concrete measures to carry out what both sides agreed to, continue to closely communicate through diplomatic and military channels, and work together to cool down the situation at the border.”

The Asian giants have rival claims to vast swathes of territory along their mountainous 3,500 km (2,173 mile) border, but the disputes have remained largely peaceful since the 1962 war.

Indian military officials said previously Chinese soldiers had entered into India’s side of the LAC or the de facto border at several locations in early May.

China denied it breached the LAC, as the 3,488 km de facto border is known, and says there is stability in the area near the Galwan River and Pangong Tso lake in the remote snow deserts of India’s Ladakh region.

One possible trigger for frictions is India’s construction of a road near the Galwan valley to narrow the gap with China’s superior network of roads that it built years ago, Indian and foreign military experts say.

China is opposed to any Indian construction in the area, saying it is disputed territory.

Since then both sides have held talks but there had been no breakthrough.

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