India in dialogue with China to end six month old military standoff: Rajnath Singh

The two sides were involved in a violent clash in June in which 20 Indian troops and an unknown number of Chinese personnel were killed

NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said India was in dialogue with China to end a six month old military standoff and commended the Indian army for standing firm against any possible attempts at intrusion by the Chinese forces in the mean time.

“The ongoing talks for peaceful resolution of crisis will continue,” while “the troops are standing firm,” Singh was quoted as telling senior commanders of the Indian army at their biannual commanders conference in New Delhi. The brainstorming session comes as New Delhi is facing a major military challenge from China in the north and Pakistan in the west, making the oft warned spectre of a two front war, a real possibility. The four day conference which began on Monday is set to conclude on Thursday.

The reference was to tensions between India and China that have been high since May this year after New Delhi detected intrusions by Chinese soldiers at multiple locations in Ladakh. The two sides were involved in a violent clash in June in which 20 Indian troops and an unknown number of Chinese personnel were killed. Many rounds of talks between the two countries at the military and diplomatic levels have not yet yielded any solution to the problem. At present, New Delhi was awaiting a response from China on a new set of dates proposed for the eighth round of military talks between the two countries, officials said.

In his remarks, the minister said that it was “our national responsibility to ensure availability of best weapons, equipment and clothing to our troops braving extreme weather and hostile forces to defend our territorial integrity.” The reference was to India sourcing high altitude winter clothing, tents and arms from countries like the US for the troops holding Indian positions at the heights of mountains in Ladakh. With the Chinese forces showing no signs of withdrawing from the positions they had taken along the Line of Actual Control border, India was clear that its troops would not vacate any vantage positions it had particularly around the Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh.

Singh also commended the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for meeting connectivity targets in far flung areas “so that our citizens living in those locations are connected and facilitate faster development.”

Referring to the situation along the border with Pakistan, Singh “complimented the Indian Army’s response to cross border terrorism and ceasefire violations,” a statement from the Indian army said.

“I compliment the excellent synergy between the CAPF(Central Armed Police Force)/ Police forces and the Army in tackling the menace of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. It is due to the synergised operations in the Valley that the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is moving to a stable and peaceful environment conducive for overall growth and development,” he said.

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