India asks China to withdraw troops at disputed border

NEW DELHI - India's foreign ministry said Tuesday it had asked China to withdraw troops who have allegedly advanced into disputed territory claimed by New Delhi in a remote area of the Himalayas.

"We have asked the Chinese side to maintain the status quo in this sector (of the western border)," spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told a first official briefing on the subject. "By this I mean the status quo prior to this incident." Akbaruddin added that the Chinese ambassador to New Delhi had been summoned over the alleged incursion on April 15, when a platoon of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is said to have advanced and erected a camp.

He stressed that there were differing perceptions of the undefined frontier in the Buddhist-majority Indian region of Ladakh which is a source of friction between the neighbours.

Mechanisms exist to resolve border problems peacefully and if troops were to come face-to-face "they shall exercise safe restraint and take all necessary steps to avoid an escalation of the situation," he said.

Referring to denials in Beijing which dismissed Indian concerns as "speculation", he added that the alleged violation was "not something that we have conjured up" and described it as a "face-to-face" situation.

China denied Monday that its troops had encroached on Indian territory or that they had contravened accords signed in 1993 and 1996 designed to maintain peace along the so-called Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday that "Chinese-Indian relations have been developing well" and added that both sides had "maintained good communication and cooperation on the border issue".

A meeting between local commanders was underway to resolve the incident as Chinese troops continued to maintain their position on Tuesday in Dipasang, about 250 kilometres (155 miles) by road east of regional capital Leh, officials said.

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