Commanders talk after China border clash, claims Indian army

Top News | REUTERS 26 Jan 2021

Indian and Chinese troops were involved in a "minor face-off" last week in a disputed stretch of their shared border in the eastern Himalayas, the Indian army said yesterday, underlining the fraught situation at the border.

China said the two sides must refrain from escalatory actions.

Nuclear-armed India and China have been in a tense standoff since April in the western Himalayas and since then have bolstered forces all along the 3,800-kilometer border.

"[There] was a minor face-off at Nakula area of North Sikkim on January 20, 2021, and the same was resolved by local commanders as per established protocols," the Indian army said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said he did not have anything to offer on the incident but urged India to exercise restraint.

"I would like to stress that China's border troops are committed to upholding peace and tranquility along the border with India. We urge the Indian side to work in the same direction as us and refrain from actions that might escalate or complicate the situation along the border," Zhao said.

"We hope both sides will take proper actions to manage their differences and take concrete actions to safeguard peace and stability along the border."

Sikkim is in the eastern Himalayas, thousands of kilometers away from Ladakh, where the military crisis began last year and erupted into a hand-to-hand combat that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and an unspecified number of Chinese casualties.

Indian media reports said the latest row in Sikkim had resulted in injuries on both sides.

The military offered no comment but advised caution on such reports.

"Media is requested to refrain from overplaying or exaggerating reports which are factually incorrect," it said.

On Sunday, India and Chinese commanders held talks that ran for several hours to try and find a way out of the stalemate.

Several rounds of talks have been held over the past few months to disengage troops facing each other off on inhospitable mountains in freezing temperatures.

No word has yet emerged on the latest round of talks.

The editor-in-chief of China's Global Times dismissed the Indian media reports of a clash as wrong.

"This is fake news. Based on what I learned, there is no record of this clash in the patrol log of the Chinese side," Hu Xijin tweeted.

"Small frictions often occur in the China-India border area, but a clash that caused multiple injuries will definitely be recorded and reported."

India and China went to war in 1962 and have not been able to settle their border dispute since then. Both lay claim to thousands of kilometers of territory in each other's control.



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