No Headway In Third Flag Meeting Between India, China

No Headway In Third Flag Meeting Between India, China

30 April 2013
The Daily Excelsior


New Delhi: India and China today held their third flag meeting in Chushul in Ladakh to resolve the issue of incursion by Chinese troops 19 km inside in Daulat Beg Oldi but the stand-off between the two sides continues. The meeting between Brigadier-level officers from the two sides began at 1100 hours and continued for more than three hours but failed to end the stand-off, sources said here. The Chinese side remained firm on its demand that India should dismantle its infrastructure developed in Eastern Ladakh which includes some newly-constructed bunkers at key vantage points and roads constructed close to the Indian perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), they said. In the meeting, India also made its stand clear that there should be an unconditional withdrawal of Chinese troops from the Indian territory as per the agreements signed between the two sides on earlier occasions, they said. At the Unified Commanders’ Conference also, Defence Minister A K Antony took a tough stand on the issue saying that India was not to be blamed for the incursions as it was “not one of our creation”. He emphasised that India would take every possible step to safeguard its interest in the area. The sources also said that the Chinese troops are still maintaining their tents and troops. The situation was also discussed at length during a security review meeting Antony had with National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and the three Services chiefs. The two earlier meetings on the issue between the two sides had failed to yield any outcome and the Chinese soldiers have even started to increase their presence in the area by erecting new tents and continue to get supplies by trucks from their unit 25 km from the face-off point. China has been raising objections over the construction of bunkers and ALGs by the Indian side within its area along its perception of the LAC. India has also deployed its troops from ITBP and Ladakh Scouts to keep an eye on the Chinese troops at the stand-off site and will increase its strength there if the Chinese do so. It had raised objections over the activation of ALGs at Fukche and DBO area in the last four-five years by the IAF and has also registered its protest on the road construction activities of the Border Roads Organisation in that area. The IAF operates its Antonv-32 transport aircraft in these air fields and had even practiced the landing of its latest C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft there. Chinese troops had entered Indian territory on April 15 at the face-off site, 70 km south of Burtse in Ladakh division. Sources said there was no clarity on the issue whether the two sides would meet again tomorrow for the Border Personnel meeting which is held every year on May 1. The two sides have three border personnel meeting points on which regular meetings take place between them. A meeting is scheduled between the two sides on May 15 in Sikkim. Meanwhile, Defence Minister A K Antony today discussed ways of resolving the Chinese incursion issue with the top security brass of the country and emphasised that India will take every step to safeguard its interests there. Addressing the Unified Commanders’ Conference, he said the current situation in Ladakh where Chinese Army troops have camped for over two weeks is “not one of our creation” and India wanted a peaceful solution for it. In a separate meeting to review the security situation in the region, Antony was briefed on the options before the country to find a peaceful solution to the incursion issue, sources said here. National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma, Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne and Navy Chief Admiral D K Joshi were present in the meeting. The meeting also discussed the military options before the Indian side to resolve the issue, they said. At the conference, Antony said the “current situation in Eastern Ladakh as ‘not one of our creation’… India remains committed to a peaceful resolution of the situation, through dialogue within the framework of agreements for maintaining peace and tranquillity”. He emphasised that India was “united in its commitment to take every possible step to safeguard our interests”. He said India’s ties with “China are, at times, bedevilled by border issues, particularly along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The recent developments are no exception”. He said India has taken various steps to safeguard its borders with China which includes development of border roads and Advanced Landing Grounds there. Antony said the capability of Pakistani Taliban to strike at will at strategic targets is “worrisome”. He said that military leadership should factor in the growing stock of Pakistani nuclear weapons to evolve an overall strategy towards country’s western neighbour. “The capability of Pakistani Taliban to strike at will at innocent public and strategic targets is worrisome,” he said. In recent times, Taliban militants in Pakistan have launched several attacks on military and police targets killing scores of people including civilians. “The growing nuclear stock of Pakistan needs to be factored in our overall strategy towards our western neighbour,” he said. According to a recent report by SIPRI think tank, Pakistan has a stockpile of around 90-110 nuclear warheads. The Defence Minister said financial constraints faced by the Government would not be allowed to affect the national security but the onus lies collectively on all of us to make the optimum use of the financial resources with all the honesty, transparency and fairness. Dwelling at length on the recent changes in procurement procedures, Antony said the objective is to bring about greater efficiency in the procurement process and to strengthen the defence manufacturing base in the country. The Defence Minister said the contemporary concept of security encompasses not merely military threats, but also cyber attacks, insurgencies, organised trans-border crimes, pandemics and contingencies of natural disasters. “Such an environment of security necessitates need for constant monitoring and building up capacities to enable multi-level, multi-agency responses,” he said