The Indian and Chinese foreign ministers have agreed that their troops should disengage from a tense border standoff, maintain proper distance and ease tensions in Ladakh region where the two sides had their deadliest clash in decades in June.
India’s S Jaishankar and China’s Wang Yi met in the Russian capital on Thursday night and concurred that "the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side,” according to the joint statement issued Friday, reports AP.
Since last week, the Asian giants have accused each other of sending soldiers into the rival’s territory and firing warning shots for the first time in 45 years, threatening a full-scale military conflict.
They did not set any timeline for the disengagement of tens of thousands of troops in a standoff since May, but agreed that "both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.”
Earlier this week, Jaishankar described the current situation along the Line of Actual Control as “very serious” and said the state of the border cannot be separated from the state of the relationship.
China outlines ‘stern position’
On Thursday, the two countries agreed that as the situation eases, they should expedite work to conclude "new confidence building measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquility in the border areas."
In a separate statement, Wang said “China-India relations have once again come to a crossroads."
Wang “outlined China's stern position on the situation in the border areas, emphasising that the imperative is to immediately stop provocations such as firing and other dangerous actions that violate the commitments made by the two sides," the statement said.
“It is also important to move back all personnel and equipment that have trespassed. The frontier troops must quickly disengage so that the situation may de-escalate," it quoted Wang as saying.
They met on the sidelines of a gathering of the foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The body comprises China, India, Pakistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Krgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The disputed 3,500-kilometer border between the world’s two most populous countries stretches from the Ladakh to Sikkim. The latest standoff is over portions of a pristine landscape that boasts the world’s highest landing strip and a glacier that feeds one of the largest irrigation systems in the world.
Both sides accuse the other of provocative behaviour including crossing into each other’s territory and both have vowed to protect their territorial integrity.
The two nations fought a border war in 1962 that spilled into Ladakh and ended in an uneasy truce. Since then, troops have guarded the undefined border area, occasionally brawling. They have agreed not to attack each other with firearms.
Rival soldiers brawled in May and June with clubs, stones and their fists with a clash on a high ridge June 15 leaving 20 Indian soldiers dead. China reported no casualties.
India’s death tally from Covid-19 reached 75,062 on Thursday as the country reported 1,172 deaths in the past 24 hours, showing an worsening situation of coronavirus.
Besides, the total caseload rose to 4,465,863, said the latest data released by the health ministry, reports Xinhua.
During the past 24 hours, as many as 95,735 new COVID-19 cases were registered across the country.
Still there are 919,018 active cases in the country, while 3,471,783 have been successfully cured and discharged from hospitals, showed the ministry's data.
Till Wednesday, a total of 52,934,433 samples have been tested, out of which 1,129,756 were tested on Wednesday alone, said the data released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
India is currently passing through the Unlock Phase-4, as efforts are being made to reopen the Indian economy which was badly hit during the strict countrywide lockdown imposed on March 25.
Read Also: Global Covid-19 deaths surge past 9 lakh
The confirmed cases from coronavirus in India surged to 4,370,128 on Wednesday, putting the country on the second place in the list of high cases.
According to the Coronavirus Resource Center of John Hopkins University, the neighbouring country recorded 73,890 deaths from the contagious virus since it reported the first case 222 days ago.
Indian health authority confirmed the first case on January 30.
Data released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the country showed that Maharashtra had witnessed the highest number of cases among all states.
A total of 243,809 people have so far been diagnosed with covid-19 in the state.
Aside from this, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh both recorded around 96,000 cases.
Also read: Covid-19: India now 2nd worst-hit by virus
West Bengal, a state closely engaged with Bangladesh, has so far confirmed 23,254 cases from the virus.
However, the United States still tops in the list of countries with high coronavirus cases with 6,329,861 covid-19 patients.
In global context, a total of 27,617,194 people have so far tested positive for coronavirus while 898,426 people lost their battle against the virus.
India’s total coronavirus caseload on Wednesday reached 4.37 million as the country reported 89,706 new cases, officials said.
The Health Ministry reported 1,115 deaths in the past 24 hours, pushing total fatalities up to 73,890, reports AP.
India has the second-most reported cases in the world and the third-most reported deaths behind the United States and Brazil.
However, the government is saying that schools will reopen later this month for senior students after more than five months.
More than 1 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus in India in less than two weeks. Testing has been ramped up to more than 1 million daily, with cumulative testing exceeding 50 million.
The Health Ministry on Tuesday announced partial reopening of schools from September 21 for students of 9-12th grades for taking teachers’ guidance. Online learning will still be permitted.
India’s famed Taj Mahal in the northern city of Agra will also reopen on September 21 with access restricted to 5,000 tourists daily to prevent overcrowding.
India on Tuesday recorded 1,133 deaths from coronavirus in the last 24 hours, its highest single-day total, reports AP.
The Health Ministry also reported 75,809 new cases, raising India's tally to nearly 4.3 million, second only to the United States and maintaining an upward surge amid an ease in nationwide restrictions to help mitigate the economic pain.
India’s death toll now stands at 72,775.
India, one of the most populous countries, has been reporting the highest single-day caseload in the world for more than a month now.
The rise in cases is partly due to increased testing. The number of daily tests conducted across the country has risen to more than a million. Nearly 3.3 million people have recovered from COVID-19 so far.
The pandemic has been economically devastating for India. Its economy contracted nearly 24 percent in the second quarter, the worst among the world’s top economies.