Rajnath Singh to visit Ladakh, review border infrastructure

NEW DELHI: Defence minister Rajnath Singh will visit Ladakh on Sunday, with the focus likely on review of border infrastructure in the union territory, officials said.

A visit to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), where the militaries of India and China remain in confrontation, could be part of the visit but there was no official confirmation.

On Friday, diplomats of India and China on Friday agreed to ensure stability at their borders and continue discussions to find an early solution to tensions at friction points in eastern Ladakh where the two countries have been locked in a military stand-off for nearly 14 months now.

In the “interim”, both sides “will continue to ensure stability on the ground and prevent any untoward incident”, India’s foreign ministry said in a statement after the latest round of talks held under the aegis of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs.

The two countries also agreed that they would hold the next round of India-China senior military commander level talks “to achieve the objective of complete disengagement from all the friction points along the LAC….in accordance with the existing bilateral agreements and protocols,” the Indian statement added.

Ties between India and China have been tense since May last year. The situation deteriorated in June after a violent clash between the two sides that killed 20 soldiers on the Indian side and an unknown number of Chinese personnel. The clashes in June last year were the first in over 40 years.

This year in February, the two countries reached an agreement on disengagement from one of the many friction points in Ladakh. But there has been no breakthrough in disengagement from the other three friction areas where troops of the two countries stand eye ball to eye ball.

India has said that normalisation of ties with China cannot happen till there is disengagement and de-escalation of troops. This is a view that Beijing disagrees with, saying that the situation on the border should not hamper ties in other areas.

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