Thursday, 25 April 2013

Army chief briefs Antony on Chinese incursion

The Chinese incursion in Ladakh featured prominently during a meeting here Thursday  between Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Indian Army chief Gen. Bikram Singh, informed sources said.

Various options were discussed during the meeting, the sources said, even as they termed the incursion a “technicality” that would be dealt with the local commanders on the ground.

The meeting comes a day after Gen. Bikram Singh returned from a visit to the Northern Command headquarters at Nagrota, near Jammu, where he met the army commander, Lt. Gen. K.T. Parnaik, and other senior officers.

The sources said the army had also given its inputs to the China Study Group that is monitoring the situation  in the Depsang area in Ladakh, where Chinese troops had April 15 set up a post inside Indian territory, about 10 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de-facto border between the two countries.

Headed by National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, the China Study Group includes the secretaries of the defence, external affairs and home ministries.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Thursday he would visit China May 9 as previously scheduled and expressed confidence that the current stand-off on the LAC would be resolved.

"I am going on May 9," Khurshid told reporters when asked about his proposed visit to China.

Khurshid said there was a working mechanism between the two countries to deal with such issues and expressed confidence that New Delhi and Beijing would be able to resolve the row following the incursion by Chinese troops in the Depsang area in Ladakh.

"Let us allow that mechanism to find its solution, and repeatedly it has found (resolution). We have good reasons to believe that it should be able to do it again," he told reporters.

On Wednesday, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said talks were on with China at various levels to resolve the stand-off.

"Our government will take every step to protect the national interest and the country's security. Negotiations are going on at various levels to resolve the issue," Antony had told reporters.

Indian and Chinese military commanders had Tuesday held a second flag meeting to resolve the stand-off over incursion by Chinese troops into the Indian side of the LAC in Ladakh.

India has asked China to maintain the status quo that existed before the intrusion.
Khurshid's trip comes ahead Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to India in the third week of May.

A spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry has reiterated that China's border troops have "strictly observed relevant agreements between China and India".

Responding to a journalist's question on the issue, Hua Chunying told a daily press briefing in Beijing: "The Chinese side has confined activities to within the Chinese border and never trespassed across the line."

She said that China and India had already established a consultation and coordination mechanism on border issues, adding that "the communication channels are open."

The maintenance of peace along the border is the consensus between China and India and complies with both their interests, Hua said.

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