India accuses China of violating border agreements

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s defense minister accused China on Thursday of eroding the “entire basis” of ties between the countries by violating bilateral agreements, a reference to a nearly 3-year-old standoff involving thousands of soldiers stationed along their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region.

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh met with visiting Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu and “had frank discussions about the developments in the India-China border areas as well as bilateral relations,” India’s Defense Ministry said.

Singh told Li that “development of relations between India and China is premised on the prevalence of peace and tranqulity at the borders,” and that all border issues need to be resolved in accordance with existing agreements and commitments, the ministry said in a statement.

There was no immediate comment on the talks by the Chinese side.

India says the deployment of a large number of Chinese troops, their aggressive behavior and attempts to unilaterally alter the border status quo violate agreements between the countries. The violations have “eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations,” Singh said.

A clash three years ago in the Ladakh region killed 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese. It turned into a long-running standoff in the rugged mountainous area, where each side has stationed tens of thousands of military personnel backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets.

Days before Li’s visit, top Indian and Chinese army commanders held an 18th round of talks in an attempt to work out a disengagement of troops from areas of tension.

Both India and China have withdrawn troops from some areas on the northern and southern banks of Pangong Tso, Gogra and Galwan Valley, but continue to maintain extra troops as part of a multitier deployment.

A Line of Actual Control separates Chinese and Indian-held territories from Ladakh in the west to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety. India and China fought a war over their border in 1962.

Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Li Shangfu is visiting New Delhi to attend a meeting of the defense chiefs of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on Friday. The group consists of China, India, Pakistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Krgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Singh also met separately on Thursday with the defense ministers of Iran, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.