India, China agree to ease tensions on border

Indian army trucks move along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangeer in Kashmir’s Ganderbal district.

India and China said on Saturday they had agreed to work towards reducing tensions along their contested border, following a meeting of the defense ministers of the nuclear-armed Asian giants.

Both sides deployed additional forces along the frontier running through the western Himalayas after a clash in June, during which 20 Indian soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand fighting. China has not released casualty figures for its troops.

In the highest level face-to-face political contact between India and China since tensions first flared along the border in May, defense ministers Rajnath Singh of India and General Wei Fenghe of China met late on Friday on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Moscow.

Both countries agreed that “neither side should take any further action that could either complicate the situation or escalate matters in the border areas,” India’s defense ministry said in a statement.

Wei said the two sides should promote peace and stability and work to cool current tensions, China’s Ministry of Defence said in a news report about the meeting posted on its website.

He said, however, that blame for the recent tensions lay “entirely with India”, adding that China was determined to safeguard its national sovereignty and territory.

China called on India to strengthen control of its frontline forces, refrain from provocative actions and “refrain from deliberately hyping and disseminating negative information”.

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