September 5, 2020

India appeals for calm,de-escalation after Rajnath’s talks with Chinese Def Minister

New Delhi/Sep,5: Shortly after China accused India of being “entirely” responsible for the border stand-off in Ladakh and blamed Delhi for escalating tension between the two countries, the Defence Ministry called for calm and appealed against “action that could complicate the situation or escalate matters in border areas”. “The two sides should continue their discussions, including through diplomatic and military channels, to ensure complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquillity along the LAC at the earliest,” the defence ministry said in a series of tweets on Saturday.

“The current situation should be handled responsibly and neither side should take any further action that could either complicate the situation or escalate matters in the border areas,” another tweet said.A third said it was important, therefore, that China co-operate with India for “complete disengagement at the earliest from all friction areas, including Pangong Lake as well as de-escalation in border areas, in accordance with the bilateral agreements and protocols”.”Indian troops had always taken a very responsible approach towards border management but, at the same time, there should also be no doubt about our determination to protect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the defence ministry said in response to China.

The Chinese had earlier put out a brief but accusatory statement following a meeting between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Chinese counterpart in Moscow late Friday night. “Causes and truth of the current tension on the China-India border are clear, and responsibility entirely lies with India. China cannot lose an inch of its territory… its armed forces are fully determined, capable and confident in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Chinese had said.

China also called on India to “earnestly implement important consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and insist on resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation”. However, in a pointed message before his meeting with the Chinese defence minister – on the sidelines of a regional summit on security and defence issues – Rajnath Singh had pointed out that peace and security demanded a climate of trust, non-aggression and respect for international rules. This was after the Indian Army this week said it had blocked China from “provocative military movements” in the Pangong Tso Lake region of Ladakh. The Army described these movements as the most serious since June, when 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash in Ladakh’s Galwan.Tensions at the border are now at some of the highest levels since the 1962 war, with China ordering a major build-up of tanks and infantry in the South Pangong region of eastern Ladakh.

India has reinforced its own tank formations in the area and deployed additional forces to shore up the heights that it holds along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the region. There has also been heavy air activity along the LAC, with the Chinese Air Force stepping up fighter deployment from Ngari-Gunsa and Hotan air bases in Tibet.Army Chief General MM Naravane has described the situation along the LAC as “tense”, but also that it could “resolved fully through talks”. Earlier this week Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said that despite the threat of coordinated action along the northern and western fronts – an allusion to a joint Pakistan and China threat – India’s armed forces were capable of responding in “best suitable ways”.

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