Army chief briefs Antony on LAC stand-off; Khurshid visiting Beijing May 9 (Roundup)

New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) The Indian Army chief, Gen. Bikram Singh, Thursday briefed Defence Minister A.K. Antony on the Chinese troop incursion in Ladakh even as External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said he is visiting China May 9. He described as “absurd” suggestions that the current stand-off would derail bilateral ties.

The army chief, who returned from a visit to the Northern Command headquarters at Nagrota, near Jammu Wednesday, briefed the defence minister on the situation after Chinese troops entered around 10 km into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Depsang area of Ladakh April 15 and pitched tents.

The LAC is the de-facto border between India and China.

Various options were discussed during the meeting, the sources said, even as they termed the incursion a “technicality” that would be dealt with the local commanders on the ground.

Indian and Chinese military commanders had Tuesday held a second flag meeting to resolve the stand-off. There are reports that a third flag meeting could be held, but sources refused to confirm it.

India has asked China to maintain the status quo that existed before the April 15 intrusion

Gen. Bikram Singh had met the army commander, Lt. Gen. K.T. Parnaik, and other senior officers during his visit to the Northern Command.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Thursday he would visit China May 9 as previously scheduled and expressed confidence that the stand-off on the LAC would be resolved.

“I am going on May 9,” Khurshid told reporters when asked about his proposed visit to China.

Khurshid said such situations arise as there are differences in perception between the two countries as there is no demarcation of their boundary. He added that there was a working mechanism between the two countries to deal with such issues and expressed confidence that New Delhi and Beijing would be able to resolve the row.

“Let us allow that mechanism to find its solution, and repeatedly it has found (resolution). We have good reasons to believe that it should be able to do it again,” he said.

Addressing FICCI’s National Executive Committee Meeting (NECM) here, Khurshid said he is visiting Beijing with the confidence that India’s friendly relations with China have matured and “the test of being friendly is evident from the fact that there is going to be a dialogue and it is the end result which matters”.

“While we may agree to differ on different issues, it is important to maintain faith as India has always cherished diversity. We can’t destroy years of investment in our relationship because something goes wrong. It is important to see the overall picture, at the same time any effort to resolve the issue should not be seen as surrender but a part of our process of growing up,” Khurshid said.

Khurshid’s trip comes ahead Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to India in the third week of May. Antony is also slated to visit China next month.

India and China have thriving trade relations. In 2012, bilateral trade between India and China stood at over $65 billion.

The Indian Army had also given its inputs to the China Study Group that is monitoring the situation in Ladakh.

Headed by National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, the China Study Group includes the secretaries of the defence, external affairs and home ministries.

The developments come as China has denied that its soldiers and aircraft had trespassed into India.

China’s defence ministry Thursday denied that Chinese border troops and aircraft had trespassed across the LAC.

The media reports on Chinese border troops, military planes and helicopters crossing the LAC are “not true”, said Yang Yujun, the ministry’s spokesman, at a press conference in Beijing.

Chinese and Indian border troops are maintaining communications through existing channels, Xinhua quoted him as saying. China’s border troops have strictly observed relevant agreements between China and India and have been working to safeguard border peace, Yang said.

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