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China denies troops in Azad Kashmir

Publication Date : 05-09-2012


By News Desk in New Delhi/Dawn

China has denied Indian claims that its troops are deployed in Azad Kashmir, a top Indian newspaper reported yesterday.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has “never deployed a single soldier” in the region, Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie told The Hindu, describing reports of the PLA’s presence in the region as “totally groundless”.

“As Minister of National Defence of China, I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify to you once again: the PLA has never deployed a single soldier in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir,” General Liang, who held talks with his Indian counterpart A. K. Antony in New Delhi yesterday, told the newspaper.

Indian officials have said that between 3,000 and 4,000 personnel were engaged in construction work and providing security in the region.

The defence minister said the allegations were inaccurate, adding China firmly supported India and Pakistan to resolve their disputes.

General Liang (71), who is also a member of China’s powerful Central Military Commission, called for “fostering a closer military-to-military relationship” with India and to making defence ties “a positive factor in our state-to-state relations”.

The defence relationship between the neighbours has been warming recently, following a year of suspended ties in 2010, the newspaper reported.

The general said it was "regrettable" that a section of the Indian media misreported bilateral relations, "even [distorting] China’s normal activities of developing [its] economy and improving people’s livelihood … into "China’s preparation for war against India"".

While some “untruthful remarks” were due to “lack of understanding and knowledge”, others, he said, “were intentionally fabricated rumours by some interest groups”.

While agreeing to enhance and maintain peace and tranquillity in their border areas, India and China yesterday also decided to conduct the next round of joint military exercises at the earliest.

On the first visit by a Chinese Defence Minister to New Delhi in eight years, General Liang and Antony discussed a wide range of issues relating to defence and military exchanges and cooperation.

The two sides also agreed to strengthen border security cooperation between the border troops so as to enhance and maintain peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas.

Antony described the 90-minute delegation level talks as “very fruitful” and said that he has accepted the invitation by General Liang to visit Beijing next year.

He said that during the talks, the two sides held discussions about “improving relations at the border areas and the situation in the South Asia and Asia Pacific region”.

“We have reached the very important consensus of further promoting the friendly, strategic and cooperated partnership between the two countries and promoting friendly exchanges and cooperation between the two armed forces,” General Liang told reporters through an interpreter outside South Block which houses the offices of the defence ministry.

He said India and China should make the most of the opportunity presented by the year of “friendship and cooperation” between them in 2012.


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