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September 14, 2020

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Indian army says ‘missing’ nationals back

THE Indian army said on Saturday that China has released five Indian nationals who went missing earlier this month from the eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh amid simmering border tensions between the two countries.

“Individuals will now be quarantined for 14 days as per COVID-19 protocol and will thereafter be handed over to their family members,” Lieutenant Colonel Harsh Wardhan Pande, a spokesman for the Indian army, said in a statement.

Pande said the five youths had “inadvertently strayed” across the border while foraging and hunting, adding that two other such incidents had taken place this year in India’s Arunachal Pradesh state, which borders China.

However, Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times said the five were Indian intelligence agents dressed as hunters, disputing claims that they had been kidnapped.

The five men went missing on September 2, adding to the already heightened tensions between India and China. The two countries have been locked in a bitter standoff for months in the Ladakh region, where in June they had their deadliest clash in decades.

The handover took place two days after a meeting in Moscow between the Indian and Chinese foreign ministers, who said they had agreed to disengage from the frontier as soon as possible.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday that China and India should implement in real earnest the five-point consensus reached on Thursday on the developments in the border areas as well as on bilateral relations.

Noting that the world currently pays close attention to China-India relations, Wang said he and Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar had an extensive and in-depth exchange of views on the situation in the border areas as well as bilateral ties during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization foreign ministers’ meeting.

During the meeting on Thursday, the two sides reached a five-point consensus. The Indian side expressed its willingness to ease tensions through diplomatic and political channels, and the Chinese side is also willing to work in the same direction, he said, adding the top priority is that Indian soldiers must not violate their commitments.


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