India Trying To De-Escalate Ladakh Situation: Singh 

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Rajnath Singh – File Pic

Srinagar: Downplaying the incursion of Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Saturday that the government was trying to de-escalate the situation by holding negotiations at military and diplomatic level with the neighboring country.

“India’s effort is to not let the situation escalate. You may have also seen Chinese President’s statement on new channels and newspapers in which he said that the issue is to be resolved through diplomatic dialogue. We have engaged China at military and diplomatic level to resolve the matter,” Singh told Hindi news channel AajTak in an interview.

“I want to assure the nation that we will not let anybody hurt India’s pride. India’s policy has always been to maintain good relations with our neighbors. We don’t want to scare any nation. We want to get well along with our neighboring nations,” he added.

Terming the latest face-off in Ladakh as a perceptional difference, Singh said such incidents were not new and have happened in past as well. He said time by time, these differences have been ironed out with the neighboring country.

“Perceptional differences have always remained with China over borders. No one can deny that truth. China agrees to certain boundaries at the LAC and disagree about certain points drawn between the two countries. We too have disagreements on certain places. Sometimes, our troops patrol upto LAC. And sometimes, their people cross the LAC and come here,” he said.

“You may have witnessed the standoff at Doklam. In 2017, it seemed tempers were running high but ultimately we resolved the issue,” he added.

Singh also said that he conveyed to US Defence Secretary Mark T Esper during a telephonic conversation on Friday that India and China have an existing mechanisms to resolve “problems” through talks at diplomatic and military levels.

“I spoke to the US Defence Secretary yesterday. I told him that we have developed a mechanism already under which any problem between India and China are resolved through military and diplomatic dialogue,” Singh said.

He was replying to a question on whether India ruled out any third-party mediation in resolving the border row with China.

Troops of India and China were engaged in the standoff for over three weeks in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh.

The trigger for the face-off was China’s stiff opposition to India laying a key road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso Lake besides construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.

Military sources said China was also laying a road in the Finger area which is not acceptable to India.

The sources said military reinforcements including troops, vehicles and artillery guns were sent to eastern Ladakh by the Indian Army to shore up its presence in the areas where Chinese soldiers were resorting to aggressive posturing.

The situation in eastern Ladakh deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on the evening of May 5 which spilled over to the next day before the two sides agreed to “disengage”.

However, the standoff continued.

The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9.

The troops of India and China were engaged in a 73-day stand-off in Doklam tri-junction in 2017 which even triggered fears of a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LAC. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it.

Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas. (with PTI inputs)

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