NEW DELHI (AP) – India’s Defense Minister said on Thursday that the country faces challenges in its border dispute with China and urged Beijing to sincerely implement an understanding they had previously reached to completely disengage forces in the region. Ladakh.
Rajnath Singh said in a statement to the upper house of parliament that China has amassed troops and weapons in Ladakh in defiance of bilateral agreements reached in the 1990s and was creating friction by trying unilaterally to change the status quo in the region through aggressive attitudes.
He said this was not acceptable to India and warned China that “we can start a war, but its end is not in our hands”. He said India is seeking a peaceful solution through talks.
The two countries’ foreign ministers met in Moscow a week ago and agreed to escalate tensions in Ladakh, but Singh’s words to parliament suggested that tensions had not melted and resolving the stalemate would be a lengthy process.
He also said India has counter-deployed troops who have thwarted “breach attempts by China”.
“We need to be confident that our armed forces will successfully handle the situation,” Singh said.
Relations between the two countries have often been strained, in part because of their unmarked border.
They waged a border war in 1962 that spilled over into Ladakh and ended in a difficult ceasefire. Since then, troops have guarded the undefined border area, occasionally clashing. The blockade escalated into a deadly collision on a high ridge on June 15 that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.
Singh said India gave “heavy” casualties to Chinese forces, but did not give any numbers. China has not provided any details on its victims.
After that collision, both countries partially separated from the country in the Galwan Valley and at least two other places, but the crisis has continued in at least three other areas, including Pangong Glacier.
He said the stalemate was due to different perceptions of the True Contested Control Line dividing the Chinese and Indian territories held by Ladakh in the west into the eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
Singh said India has doubled its budget for building roads, bridges and other infrastructure along the border to match Chinese infrastructure to speed up the movement of forces.
“We are fully prepared to defend our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said, adding that China continued to occupy nearly 38,000 square kilometers (14,670 square miles) of Indian land in Ladakh.
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