00:28 GMT08 March 2021
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    Despite having agreed to ease tensions after a violent face-off between troops in Ladakh last year, India and China have been beefing up defences along the Line of Actual Control. Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar on Thursday said that the relationship between the two countries is at a crossroads.

    Making it clear that the number of troops will not be reduced without a concrete mutual agreement, India’s President Ram Nath Kovind said on Friday that the country has strengthened its military forces along the disputed Himalayan border with China.

    “My Government is vigilant and fully committed to safeguard the interests of the country. Additional forces have also been deployed at the LAC to protect the sovereignty of India”, Ram Nath Kovind said while addressing members of the parliament.

    While mentioning that the June 2020 face-off with People’s Liberation of Army troops in the Galwan Valley, the president said that 20 Indian soldiers made the supreme sacrifice and laid down their lives defending the country. “Every citizen is deeply indebted to these martyrs”, he added.

    The president has revealed that a few days ago, the government "placed an order with HAL for procurement of 83 indigenous fighter aircraft ‘Tejas’ worth around $7 billion".

    The Indian Army has deployed indigenous attack helicopters, Rafale fighter jets, tanks, and other military equipment in the contested Ladakh region, where a border stand-off erupted last April during a patrol in no man’s land near Pangong Lake. The two sides accused each other of violating border agreements. Nevertheless, military commander-level meetings have repeatedly been held since then to de-escalate the tensions.

    “The parties agreed that this round of negotiations was positive, constructive and practical, which will contribute to strengthening mutual trust and mutual understanding. The party agreed to facilitate the early withdrawal of advanced troops on the border of the two countries”, a statement issued by the Indian Foreign Ministry on 25 January after the ninth round of negotiations with China reads.

    Eight Conditions to Fix China Ties

    On Thursday, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, in his most comprehensive speech on the state of India-China relations since last April, stated eight conditions to fix ties with Beijing.

    The minister said that agreements already reached with China must be adhered to in their entirety, both in letter and spirit.

    “Second, where the handling of the border areas are concerned, the Line of Actual Control must be strictly observed and respected; any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo is completely unacceptable”, the minister emphasised.

    “While both nations are committed to a multi-polar world, there should be a recognition that a multi-polar Asia is one of its essential constituents”, Jaishankar added while indicating that China must accept the rise of India in a positive manner.

    Besides these, the minister underlined that countries must respect the interests, concerns, and priorities of each other.

    Related:

    Images of India-China Tank Face-Off on Disputed Himalayan Border Area Go Viral
    Scores of Troops Reportedly Injured as 'Minor Face-off' Erupts Between India, China
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    Sputnik, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi, Ram Nath Kovind, Indian Army, People's Liberation Army, China, India
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