The Ministry of External Affairs on Monday said that after talks with China, both countries have agreed to disengage troops in Doklam in the Sikkim sector. The two nations have been engaged in a standoff in the region since the last week of June.

“In recent weeks, India and China maintained diplomatic communication in respect of the incident at Doklam,” the MEA said. “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 ongoing.”

China’s response

Beijing, however, said its forces will continue to patrol the area, though it expressed its satisfaction that Indian troops had retreated, Reuters reported. The Chinese Defence Ministry said its soldiers will remain alert in Doklam, asking India to learn a lesson from this incident and respect historical boundaries and international law.

“We remind the Indian side China half way and jointly protect the peace and tranquility of the border region,” Spokesperson Wu Qian said in a statement.

In another statement, the External Affairs Ministry of India said New Delhi has always maintained that such matters can only be resolved through diplomacy.

“Our principled position is that agreements and understandings reached on boundary issues must be scrupulously respected,” the MEA said. “India’s policy remains guided by the belief that peace and tranquility in the border areas is an essential prerequisite for further development of our bilateral relationship.”

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had earlier pushed for bilateral talks to end the border dispute. “War is not the way to solve problems between countries,” she had said in Parliament. “You need peace talks to restore balance even after a war.”

The Sikkim standoff

Since June 26, India and China were locked in a diplomatic standoff after both nations maintained that troops from the other country had transgressed into their territory in the Sikkim sector’s Doklam area.

Bilateral ties had been strained since the Indian Army stopped China from constructing a road in the region. New Delhi had made it clear that it would not allow China to construct a motorable road up to the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction through the Doklam plateau.