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Dialogue with China is on, says Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Ladakh standoff

India and China are talking to each other at military and diplomatic levels to resolve the Ladakh standoff, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Saturday. Singh’s statement is the first from a senior central minister on the standoff with China at four points along the Line of Actual Control.

Rajnath Singh told news channel Aaj Tak that both countries had made it clear that they wanted to resolve the problem. In course of the interview, Rajnath Singh also underlined that there was no need for the United States to meditate since the two countries already had a mechanism to resolve problems and it had been set in motion.

US President Donald Trump this week told reporters that he was “ready, willing and able to mediate” between India and China to help resolve tension at the border.

The offer has been rejected by foreign ministries of the two countries.

The offer also figured in a conversation between Rajnath Singh and US secretary of state Mark Esper when they spoke last evening.

“I told him that India and China already had a mechanism that if there is any problem between the two countries, it is resolved by military and diplomatic dialogue. That mechanism is in place and the dialogue is on,” Rajnath Singh told the news channel. He also pointed to statements from Beijing on similar lines.

“India’s policy has been very clear that we should have good relations with all neighbours. This has been a long standing effort. But sometimes, circumstances arise with China that things like this happen. Such incidents have happened in the past as well… Efforts are on to resolve the issue,” he said.

China had earlier this month moved a large number of its troops to four points in Ladakh sector’s Galwan Valley and Pangong Tso area in an apparent effort to browbeat the Indian side to stop border construction projects including a 60-metre concrete bridge being built near Daulat Beg Oldie, the last military post south of the Karakoram Pass.

In response, India’s military also moved in reinforcements to match the Chinese troops and made it clear that New Delhi would not allow any unilateral attempt by China to alter the status quo along the LAC.

“The country should be assured that we will not allow India’s dignity to be hurt under any circumstances,” Rajnath Singh said. To a question on China’s ability to arm twist New Delhi, the minister said there was no question of this happening since the country had a strong leadership and the people knew this.

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