In first public remarks from the political establishment on tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said Saturday that dialogue at the military and diplomatic levels are on between India and China to resolve the situation. He said India wants good relations with its neighbours.
Speaking to Aaj Tak, Singh said: “India is also trying that tensions should not rise in any situation. If it needs to be discussed at the military level, then through talks at the military level; if it requires to be discussed at the diplomatic level, then through talks at the diplomatic level… the situation must be resolved.”
“I want to inform that talks with China are on at military and diplomatic levels. China has also expressed willingness to resolve the situation.” he said.
On the row with Nepal over the opening of a road via Lipulekh on the Mansarovar Yatra trail, Singh said this too will be resolved through talks.
“Nepal is like family, India and Nepal are like brothers. It is all under control. If there is any problem, we will sit together and discuss it,” he said.
Referring to statements from Beijing, Singh said “they have clearly said that they want to resolve it through diplomatic dialogue”.
Sometimes, he said, “some circumstances do develop with respect to China, and have happened earlier as well. Recently in May, some circumstances have developed on the LAC, but the process to resolve it is on”.
Asked about US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate between India and China, Singh said he had informed US Secretary of Defense Mark T Esper Friday that India and China had established mechanisms to resolve such situations.
“Yesterday, I spoke to US Secretary of Defense. I told him we have developed a mechanism that if a problem crops up between India and China, then it will be resolved through military and diplomatic dialogues. We have that mechanism, and based on that, talks are going on.”
Singh said such incidents happen because of the difference in perceptions of the LAC — a stand that has also been maintained by the Indian Army ever since tensions mounted along the LAC in eastern Ladakh earlier this month.
“Nobody can deny the fact that there has been difference in perceptions about the India-China border,” but “there is no question, and nobody can imagine” that India can be arm-twisted like the situation in 1962.
“Since long, China has agreed to the Line of Actual Control at some places, but at some other places they do not agree, and they claim it is ahead. We too have similar assumptions at some places. We patrol till the LAC, sometimes their troops come here after crossing the LAC. This process has been going on, it is not happening for the first time.”
He said throughout all such crises earlier, “India and China have been resolving through dialogue”.
Citing the 2017 standoff at Doklam, Singh said, “it felt like tensions have increased a lot” but “we did not move back, and were successful in resolving the issue”.
India, he said, “will stand our ground”. But he made it clear that India does not want to “intimidate anyone, we do not want to instil fear in anyone… we want to take everyone along”.
Crediting the country’s “strong and capable leadership”, Singh said the government will “never let the country bow, and the people believe that”.
“I want to assure the country that under no circumstances will we allow India’s self-respect to be hurt. India has always had a clear policy of good relations with neighbours. And this is not now, we have always tried to do that.”
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Earlier this week, Singh met Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force. The military brass, along with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, also briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the situation.
India and China have been involved in discussions at the ground level between the military commanders, and at the diplomatic level to find a solution to the crisis that is now in its fourth week.
On Thursday, Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said “we are engaged with the Chinese side to peacefully resolve this issue”.
National Security Advisory Board member Lt Gen (retd) S L Narasimhan also told The Indian Express Thursday that diplomatic talks with China had begun more than a week ago.
He said Chinese troops “are trying to lay claim to their perception of LAC. I don’t think it should be seen as if they want to pick up territory or otherwise”.
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