India acknowledges for the first time it has matched China in massing troops at their contested Himalayan border.
China has deployed large numbers of troops and weapons along a disputed Himalayan border in violation of bilateral agreements, India’s foreign ministry has said, accusing Beijing of escalating tensions and triggering a deadly clash last week.
“At the heart of the matter is that since early May, the Chinese side had been amassing a large contingent of troops and armaments along the LAC,” foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said in a briefing in New Delhi on Thursday, referring to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border between the Asian nuclear powers.
Srivastava said “this is not in accordance with the provisions of our various bilateral agreements,” referring to treaties that include a 1993 one that dictates that both sides will maintain limited border deployments.
India had “to undertake counter deployments” because of the Chinese buildup, he said as New Delhi acknowledged for the first time it has matched Beijing in massing troops at their contested Himalayan border.
China has blamed India for the clash – the deadliest between the two nuclear-armed neighbours for at least five decades – and said Indian troops attacked Chinese officers and soldiers.
Responding to the heightened Chinese presence last month, India also deployed a large number of troops along the LAC, Srivastava said, leading to face-offs in the Ladakh region of the western Himalayas.
On June 15, Indian and Chinese troops brawled for several hours in the Galwan Valley, using stones and sticks with nails embedded in them to beat each other, killing 20 Indian soldiers and injuring at least 76 more. China has not disclosed how many casualties its troops suffered.
The neighbours have blamed each other for the high-altitude battle. After senior military commanders held parleys this week, both sides have since agreed to disengage their troops on the disputed border.
But in satellite images reviewed by Reuters news agency, China appears to have added new structures near the site of the Galwan Valley clash that India says is on its side of the LAC. These include camouflaged tents or covered structures and a potential new camp under construction with walls or barricades.
“Peace and tranquility in the border areas is the basis of our bilateral relationship,” said Srivastava, demanding that China follow up on its pledge to cool tensions. “A continuation of the current situation would only vitiate the atmosphere.”
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