Indian Army says Defense Minister’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, part of which is disputed, was aimed at boosting the morale of troops and not unsettling the bilateral agreement on maintaining peace at the border, as claimed by China.
New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian Army has sought to debunk China’s claim that the visit of the Indian Defense Minister to the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh bordering China would unsettle the tranquility in the frontier region.
Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said on Tuesday that the Defense Minister’s visit was aimed at motivating the troops guarding the borders in the difficult Himalayan terrain.
“Defense Minister visits troops in forward areas to meet them in person, to understand various issues which might be engulfing them. I think visits by the defense minister are always a source of motivation,” General Rawat said.
Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman interacted with the troops at forward army posts at Kibithu in Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh and lauded their dedication to service and their efforts in such a remote and inhospitable terrain, according to an Indian Army release. The defense minister was briefed on the situation and defense preparedness along the Line of Actual Control (de-facto border).
Ahead of the visit, China’s foreign ministry had warned India that the Defense Minister’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which China considers as part of South Tibet, was not conducive to efforts made by the two countries to maintain peace in the region.
“It is an objective fact that there are disputes over the eastern section of the China-India border. We believe that the Indian official’s visit to the disputed area of the China-India border may complicate the border issue further and is not conducive to the efforts being made by the two sides to maintain the peace and tranquility of the border area,” Hua Chunying, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson had said during a regular press conference on Monday.
China has said it hopes India will make concerted efforts to continue creating conducive conditions and atmosphere for the two sides to properly resolve the border issue through negotiations and uphold the overall picture of bilateral relations.
Earlier this year, China had objected to the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh. Last year, it raised objections against then US envoy Richard Verma’s visit. Beijing has been opposed to almost all visits by Indian presidents and prime ministers to Arunachal Pradesh.