Defence Minister Rajnath Singh talked tough with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe during Friday’s meeting that took place on the sidelines of the SCO dialogue in Moscow and conveyed that India will not “cede an inch of its land” and is determined to protect integrity and sovereignty of the country at all costs, sources told ANI.
The meeting between Singh and Wei took place amid heightened tensions between New Delhi and Beijing as troops of both sides are engaged in a standoff along the Line of Actual Control. According to the official statement, the meeting went on for two-and-a-half hours.
Singh and Wei both were in Moscow to attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) defence ministers which took place on Friday. According to informed sources, Singh gave point by point rebuttal to the claims made by the Chinese minister.
Sources told ANI that Defence minister Singh told Chinese side in clear terms that India will not cede an inch of land and is determined to protect its integrity and sovereignty at all costs. The meeting was unscheduled and was held after the Chinese side requested for it. Experts believe that since India took control of strategic heights north of Pangong Lake in Ladakh at the LAC, China is keener for talks.
This is established from the fact that the Chinese minister even chose to come down to the hotel where the Indian Defence Minister was putting up for the dialogue, according to informed sources.
Wei has made three requests for the meeting in the last 80 days. He is a People Liberation Army veteran, having served for 50 years in the forces.
India also issued an official statement on the meeting which said the Defence Minister “categorically conveyed India’s position on the developments along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) including in the Galwan valley in the Western Sector of the India-China Border Areas in the last few months”.
During the meeting, Singh emphasised that the actions of the Chinese troops including their being amassed in large numbers, their aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo were in violation of the bilateral agreements and not in keeping with the understandings reached between the Special Representatives of two sides.
“Defence Minister (Singh) stated clearly that while the Indian troops had always taken a very responsible approach towards border management, at the same time there should also be no doubt about our determination to protect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” an official release said.