China not to pull out soon

Dragon says issue will be properly solved through negotiations

China not to pull out soon

More than two weeks after intruding into eastern Ladakh, China on Thursday dropped hints that it would  not pull out of the face-off zone anytime soon even as it hoped to resolve the crisis through talks.

Asked how long the Chinese troops intended to stay put at Raki Nalla near Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO), where they set up five tents in the last two weeks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying in Beijing said: “The Chinese troops carry out normal patrols on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China. China is firmly opposed to any action that crosses the LAC. China believes peace and tranquillity in border areas serve the common interest of both sides. We hope the media can give more time and be more patient. This issue will be properly solved soon through negotiations,” she said at a media briefing.

The statement comes a day after Army chief General Bikram Singh briefed the Cabinet Committee on Security on the Chinese intrusion and how the situation evolved in the last 17 days. Army officials denied speculation that Singh suggested military options to deal with the situation.

The Chinese troops have come 19 km inside the Indian territory. The site in the Depsang plains, where both sides have been sitting face-to-face since April 15, is 40 km south-east of DBO, an old airstrip which was reactivated by the Indian Air Force in 2008. The two sides also held three flag meetings between the local military commanders, besides regular diplomatic consultations. The situation on the ground, however, remains the same.

Meanwhile, there was no confirmation on External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s pre-scheduled visit to Beijing on May 9. Cancellation of the tour may be an indication of escalation of the border tension.

“The minister himself has said that he intends to go to Beijing,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in New Delhi on Thursday. The Chinese spokesperson said information about Khurshid’s visit would be “released in due course.”

The external affairs minister is under pressure from the Opposition, as well as the UPA ally Samajwadi Party, to cancel his visit to China. In case Khurshid cancels his visit, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to New Delhi later this month will also become doubtful.

Hua skipped a question on whether the present row would cast a shadow on both visits.

“The objective of our diplomatic contact has been that we return to the status quo as it was in that limited spatial and geographical space prior to April 15. We require time and space to work this through and channels are active diplomatically,” said Akbaruddin.

On the adverse impact of the row on the relations between the two countries, Hua said the problem propped up because the border was “not delineated.” “It is natural for problems to crop up from time to time. What is important is for both sides to solve this issue as soon as possible through dialogue and negotiations. China and India have reached an important agreement to maintain peace and tranquillity at the border areas,” she added.

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