China’s incursion into Vietnam has halted on February 19, about five to 10 km inside Vietnam, with Hanoi claiming that elements of 13 Chinese battalions have suffered 3,500 troops killed and 80 tanks have been destroyed. Western intelligence sources said in Bangkok that the intention of the Chinese invasion was to “teach Vietnam a lesson” and that elements of some Chinese units were possibly withdrawing to China.
Prime Minister Morarji Desai reviewed the Vietnamese situation with the Minister of External Affairs Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who cut short his visit to China by a day after Chinese forces attacked Vietnam. The foreign secretary, Jagat Mehta, was also present at these discussions. Desai has already come out with a forthright statement calling for the immediate withdrawal of Chinese forces from Vietnam as a first step towards restoration of peace in Southeast Asia. And to make India’s stand clear, a special paragraph was inserted into the President’s address expressing India’s grave concern on the Sino-Indian-Vietnamese border, and the President too asked for the immediate withdrawal of Chinese troops.
The meeting of the Janata Legislature Party scheduled for February 21 in Lucknow to elect a new leader for Uttar Pradesh has been postponed. The party’s Central Parliamentary Board at its meeting tomorrow morning will fix a fresh date for the election of the leader, the Janata Party General Secretary Rama Krishna Hegde, said. The postponement has been necessitated to give the central leadership and various factions in the states more time to reach a consensus over the successor to UP Chief Minister Ram Naresh Yadav, who has lost the confidence of the party. Both the outgoing chief minister and the pro-changers had approached the high command to defer the election of the leader by a week or so.