Admitting that China has sent a large number of troops to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), defence minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said India hopes to resolve the stand-off through diplomatic and military level talks.
Singh, speaking to Network18's Amish Devgan, said he was informed by Army Chief MM Naravane that a meeting between Indian and Chinese military leaders will be held on June 6, and expressed confidence that the issue will be settled peacefully.
“This has happened before too and a solution was found,” he said, referring to the 73-day Doklam stand-off of 2017.
Refusing to ascribe any motives to China’s actions at the LAC in eastern Ladakh in the middle of a pandemic, Singh said it would be wrong to speculate or express doubts when talks are already underway. He said he would have definitely said something were talks not being held.
“They (the Chinese leadership) have also said they want to solve the dispute through dialogue,” he said.
The Indian and Chinese troops are involved in a face-off at three points in the Galwan Valley and at one point at Pangong Tso in Ladakh, with both sides sending reinforcements to bolster their positions. Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General YK Joshi on Tuesday also reached Ladakh to review the situation amid growing tensions.
The defence minister said that India has also sent a large number of troops to match the Chinese deployment, and assured that the government would not let anyone hurt India’s self-respect. He did not answer or confirm when asked if China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has entered Indian territory.
Reports from Eastern Ladakh and Satellite imagery indicate that Chinese troops have intruded into what India believes is its territory in Galwan and Pangong Tso.
The trigger for the face-off was China's stiff opposition to India laying a key road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso besides construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.
Singh, however, refused to brand China is India’s enemy and said that he considers it just to be India’s neighbour. “We don’t consider anyone to be an enemy. Even Pakistan is just a neighbour. But we reserve the right to respond strongly if anyone tries to hurt us,” he said.
On US President Donald Trump’s offer that he would be willing to mediate to solve the border dispute, Singh reiterated that both countries have in place a well-developed mechanism to solve such issues, and do not need the help of any third party. He added that China’s President Xi Jinping, too, has said he would like to solve the issue through dialogue.