Days before the expected visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China for a BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit, India has begun de-escalation in the months-long Doklam standoff , the Ministry of External Affairs said on Monday in a dramatic announcement.
An official statement said the step was taken after rounds of bilateral discussions through diplomatic channels, even as reports from Beijing indicated that India has withdrawn unilaterally.
“In recent weeks, India and China have maintained diplomatic communication in respect of the incident at Doklam. During these communications, we were able to express our views and convey our concerns and interests. 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 MEA in a press statement titled “Doklam Disengagement Understanding,” the statement said.
Though the statement indicates that the withdrawal is mutually agreed, it is still unclear if the Chinese troops are reciprocating India’s disengagement move.
However, a flash from the Chinese official news agency, Xinhua, announced that India has begun withdrawal of its troops.
Another report from Beijing said the Chinese troops will "continue to patrol in Doklam in the Sikkim sector” in a sign of “sovereignty over the region”.
The stand-off began in the the first fortnight of June when China began extending a motorable road on the Doklam plateau that is claimed by both Bhutan and China.
Defence sources confirmed the MEA’s announcement, saying: “Disengagement agreed to; disengagement is in progress.”
India has been maintaining military presence on the plateau ever since June, prompting a belligerent rhetoric from China. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval travelled to China in July and held talks with Chinese officials on the sidelines of the meeting of the National Security Advisors of BRICS. However, Monday’s announcement is the first time India is confirming a de-escalation.
China had indicated at Indian troops reduction in the standoff in July, but the MEA had refused to confirm that report.