India says talks on to end standoff with China

June 26th, 2015 5:30 am

First Posted: 4/26/2013

(AP) India is holding talks to end a standoff with China after Chinese soldiers infiltrated deep inside Indian-claimed territory, India's defense minister A.K. Antony said Friday.

"Negotiations and consultations are going on at various levels to find out a peaceful solution to the Chinese incursion issue," Antony told reporters.

India says Chinese troops crossed the de facto border between the countries and went 10 kilometers (six miles) into Indian territory on April 15. About 50 Chinese soldiers have pitched tents and are camping in Daulat Beg Oldi in the Ladakh region of eastern Kashmir.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is traveling to Beijing on May 9 ahead of a scheduled visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India.

India has asked China to withdraw the soldiers. China has dismissed reports of an incursion and says the border region is peaceful.

India's army chief, General Bikram Singh, who has returned to Delhi from a visit to the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, briefed officials from the defense and foreign ministries on the situation in Ladakh.

India says Chinese troops have repeatedly crossed the boundary in recent years, leaving trash with Chinese markings as evidence of their presence. However, Indian officials said the latest incursion was far deeper into Indian-claimed territory than before.

India and China neighbors with more than 1 billion people each have had chilly relations since they fought a border war in 1962.

China claims about 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of land in India's northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, while India says China is occupying 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of territory in the Aksai Chin plateau in the western Himalayas.

The two have held 15 rounds of talks on their border dispute without making much progress.

China is a longtime ally and weapons supplier to Pakistan, India's bitter rival. The presence in India of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile also remain a source of tension between New Delhi and Beijing. China is also suspicious of New Delhi's growing ties with the United States.

Despite the territorial tensions, bilateral trade has soared, with China becoming India's biggest trading partner. Two-way trade jumped from $5 billion in 2002 to nearly $75 billion in 2011, but declined slightly last year because of the global economic downturn. Trade remains heavily skewed in China's favor, another source of worry for India.

Associated Press