India army chief says talks can resolve border row with China

India’s army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said on Friday he was confident the ongoing border stand-off with China could be resolved through talks, even as thousands of troops remained amassed along a disputed Western Himalayan region.

“We are sure that the problem can be resolved fully through talks,” Naravane told Reuters partner ANI during a visit to the Ladakh region, where troops from the two nuclear-armed countries have been squaring off for months.

India accuses China of violating bilateral agreements by pushing its troops through the Line of Control (LAC), the de-facto border, in the snow deserts of Ladakh.

“The situation along the LAC is slightly tense,” Naravane said, adding that India had deployed additional troops in some areas to stall any attempted Chinese incursions.

China, however, has blamed India of trespassing the LAC late last month, saying the “move has grossly violated China’s territorial sovereignty,” according to a Chinese embassy spokesperson in New Delhi.

But both countries have repeatedly reiterated that they are keen on talks to resolve the process, with military officials meeting for several days this week south of Ladakh’s Pangong Tso lake, where the latest flare-up occurred over the weekend.

Indian and Chinese media on Friday reported a possible meeting between the defence ministers of both countries in Moscow, where they are attending a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation gathering.

“Based on what I know, this arrangement between the two sides has made progress. The meeting between Wei Fenghe and Rajnath Singh has a big probability to be held,” Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China’s Global Times newspaper said on Twitter, naming the two defence ministers.

A spokesman for India’s defence ministry said he had no information on a likely meeting, which would be the first face-to-face talks between senior Indian and Chinese officials since the stand-off intensified after a clash between troops in June.

Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in brutal hand-to-hand fighting in Ladakh’s Galwan valley on June 15, with the Chinese side also suffering an undisclosed number of casualties.

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