‘When senior commanders of 2 armies will hold parleys’
As stand-offs continue on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday hinted that the confrontation may end after June 6 when senior commanders of both the armies will hold parleys. So far, more than seven rounds of military-level talks have taken place but to no avail.
Hoping for a peaceful resolution of the tense situation prevailing at the LAC in Eastern Ladakh, the Minister also admitted that China has moved a large number of troops to the border during the ongoing face-offs.
His observations came in the backdrop of at least four such eyeball to eyeball confrontations currently on at four sites spread in a frontage of 25 to 30 km. Moreover, the Chinese troops have also intruded more than three kms into the Hot Springs area of the Galwan valley and built bunkers and barracks besides bolstering troop strength.
Stressing that the focus was on bringing down the temperature on the LAC, Rajnath, in an interview to a private television channel, said Army Chief General MM Naravane had informed him that a meeting between the Indian and Chinese military commanders will be held on June 6. He expressed confidence the issue will be settled peacefully. He also referred to the 73-day face-off in Doklam in Sikkim plateau in 2017 and said “this has happened before too and a solution was found.”
Hectic talks at the highest diplomatic and political level then were undertaken to enable the soldiers from both sides to back off. On the Chinese aggressiveness on the LAC now when the coronavirus pandemic is raging, the Defence Minister refrained from attributing any motives.
He said it would be wrong to speculate or express doubts when talks are already underway. Rajnath also said he would have definitely said something were talks not being held. “They (the Chinese leadership) have also said they want to solve the dispute through dialogue,” he said.
The Indian and Chinese troops are involved in a face-off at three points in the Galwan valley and at one point at Pangong Tso in Ladakh. Two days back, the Minister had also said the “Chinese soldiers had come in a little further than they used to earlier” at the LAC to “make the situation different this time.” While the Army Chief had reviewed the situation in a visit to Leh about a fortnight back, Northern Command chief Lt General YK Joshi is now in Ladakh to take stock.
Without going into details about preparedness to counter the Chinese enhanced troops strength, Rajnath said India has also sent a large number of troops to match the Chinese deployment, and assured that the Government would not let anyone hurt India’s self-respect. He did not answer or confirm when asked if China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has entered Indian territory.
The Minister also refrained from terming China as an enemy and said he considers it just to be India’s neighbour. “We don’t consider anyone to be an enemy. Even Pakistan is just a neighbour. But we reserve the right to respond strongly if anyone tries to hurt us,” he said.
On US President Donald Trump’s offer that he would be willing to mediate to solve the border dispute, Rajnath said India and China have a well-developed mechanism to solve such issues and ruled out third party intervention. He added that China’s President Xi Jinping, too, has said he would like to solve the issue through dialogue.
Wednesday, 03 June 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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