China’s amassing of troops reason for eastern Ladakh row, says India

New Delhi: India on Thursday blamed China's actions of amassing a large number of troops close to the border and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) last year for the continuing military standoff in eastern Ladakh, and asserted the acts were in violation of Sino-India bilateral agreements.

India's strong comments on the border row came a day after China said its military deployment in the region is a normal defence arrangement aimed at "preventing and responding" to "encroachment and threat" on Chinese territory by "relevant country".

"It is well recognised that it has been the Chinese actions over the last year, including amassing of a large number of troops close to border areas in the western sector and trying to unilaterally alter the status quo along the LAC, which have seriously disturbed peace and tranquillity in the border areas," external affairs ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing.

"These acts are in violation of our bilateral agreements, including the 1993 and 1996 agreements that mandate that the two sides shall strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control and that two sides will keep their military forces in the areas along the LAC to a minimum level," Bagchi said.

He was responding to a question on the comments made by Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Wednesday the military deployment by China in the western sector along the border is a "normal defence arrangement.

"China's military deployment along the western section of the China-India border is a normal defence arrangement aimed at preventing and responding to encroachment and threat on China's territory by relevant country," he said.

Zhao made these comments when asked about External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's recent remarks that the issue relating to the border row is whether Beijing would live up to its written commitments about not deploying a large armed force along the frontier.

Asked when the next round of diplomatic talks under the framework of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) will take place, Bagchi said he does not have an update on it.

‘India wants normal ties with neighbours’

India on Thursday said it desires normal relations with Pakistan and it was for that country to create a conducive environment through measures including taking “credible, verifiable and irreversible” action to not allow any territory under its control to be used for cross-border terrorism.

“We desire normal relations with all our neighbours including Pakistan,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing. He was responding to a question.

“Pakistan must work towards creating a conducive atmosphere including by taking credible, verifiable and irreversible action to not allow any territory under its control to be used for cross-border terrorism against India in any manner,” he said.

On Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s comments on New Delhi’s role in Afghanistan, Bagchi said India brought electricity and built dams, schools and healthcare infrastructure in that country.

“The world knows what Pakistan has brought to Afghanistan,” he said.

Bagchi said India supports the Afghan peace process and is in touch with various stakeholders including regional countries.

India, Kazakhstan discuss defence ties

Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane on Thursday held a telephonic interaction with his counterpart in Kazakhstan Major General Talgat Mamyrtaevich Koibakov to discuss issues of bilateral defence cooperation, according to an official statement.

Kazakhstan shares land border of around 1,780 km with China. However, unlike India, Kazakhstan does not have any active border dispute with China.

Indian Army said on Twitter on Thursday, “General MM Naravane, COAS (Chief of Army Staff), had telephonic interaction with Major General Talgat Mamyrtaevich Koibakov, Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces of the Armed Forces, Republic of #Kazakhstan and discussed issues of bilateral defence cooperation.”

Rajnath reviews Project Seabird work

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday visited Karwar Naval Base and reviewed the progress of ongoing infrastructure development under Project Seabird.

The Defence Minister was accompanied by Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh, the Defence PRO here said.

As part of the visit, Singh undertook an aerial survey of the project area and sites, prior to arriving at INS Kadamba Helipad. Singh and Navy Chief were received by Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding in Chief, Western Naval Command and Rear Admiral Mahesh Singh, Flag Officer Commanding Karnataka Naval Area, the statement said.

The Defence Minister is also scheduled to visit Kochi to review the progress of construction of the indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) there.

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