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Indian Troops Ready to Thwart 'Expansionists', Says Modi as China Opposes His Ladakh Trip

© REUTERS / PRESS INFORMATION BUREAUIndia's Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Himalayan region of Ladakh, July 3, 2020.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Himalayan region of Ladakh, July 3, 2020.  - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): Multiple high-level meetings between India and China have failed to resolve the border face-off along the Line of Control in the eastern Ladakh region. A military build-up continues between the countries despite both sides agreeing to a "gradual and verifiable" disengagement in the region.

Indian Prime Minister Modi arrived in Leh on Friday in a surprise visit to take stock of the situation in the first high-profile visit by the leadership since the border standoff with China erupted in the last week of April.

In his 26-minute speech to the Indian Armed Forces, Modi said the era of expansionism is over, and history is proof that expansionists have “either lost or were forced to turn back”.

In a veiled message to China amid the border standoff, he said the entire territory of Ladakh including Galwan is India’s crown and it is the mark of respect for 1.3 billion Indians. He added that bravery is a prerequisite for peace and that those who are weak can never initiate peace.

“India’s enemies have seen your fire and fury. Those who are weak can never initiate peace. Bravery is a prerequisite for peace. Your willpower is as strong and firm as the Himalayas. The whole country is proud of you", said Modi.

In a rousing speech to Indian soldiers, he offered his tribute to the 20 soldiers who were killed on 15 June in a violent clash with the People's Liberation Army. 

Ji Rong, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in India, has slammed Modi's remarks, saying that "it's groundless to view China as 'expansionist', exaggerate & fabricate its disputes with neighbours".

Earlier in the day, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian responded to Modi's surprise visit, saying that the two countries should act in a way to diffuse the tensions.

"India & China are in communication and negotiations on lowering the temperatures through military and diplomatic channels. No party should engage in any action that may escalate the situation at this point", Lijian said.

Maxar WorldView-3 satellite image shows close up view of road construction near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) border in the eastern Ladakh sector of Galwan Valley June 22, 2020.   - Sputnik International
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The visit comes days after the Chinese Foreign Ministry had indicated that both sides had “made progress ineffective measures by frontline troops to disengage and de-escalate the situation”.

The third round of Corps Commander de-escalation talks along the 4,057 km Line of Actual Control took place in Chushul on 30 June.

The month-long simmering border conflict between the two countries escalated into a direct confrontation on 15 June, resulting in the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh. China has not yet revealed the number of casualties on its side. Both countries have accused each other of violating the loosely demarcated Line of Actual Control.

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