India's Modi rallies troops at China border, as Beijing urges caution
NEW DELHI/ BEIJING (Reuters) - India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew on Friday into the northern border region where Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a stand-off, and said the military stood ready to defend his country.
His comments prompted Beijing to call for restraint at the tense border area in the northern Himalayan region of Ladakh.
Modi, making his first trip to the Ladakh region since the Indian army lost 20 soldiers in a clash with Chinese soldiers last month, said his country’s commitment to peace should not be seen as a sign of weakness.
“Today India is becoming stronger, be it in naval might, air power, space power and the strength of our army. Modernization of weapons and upgradation of infrastructure has enhanced our defence capabilities multifold,” he said in a speech to soldiers near Leh, the regional capital.
India says Chinese troops have intruded across the Line of Actual Control, or the ceasefire line separating the two armies in the high altitude Ladakh region, and the clash on June 15 occurred because Chinese troops sought to erect defences on India’s side of the de facto border.
China says the whole of the Galwan valley where the clash occurred is its territory and that it was frontline Indian troops that had breached the border, which is not demarcated.
China’s foreign ministry said on Friday the two countries were holding talks to reduce tensions.