Border Face-Off Shadows PM Modi's Talks With Chinese President Xi

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Border Face-Off Shadows PM Modi's Talks With Chinese President Xi
New Delhi:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping the latest incursions by his country's soldiers into Indian territory on Wednesday. Nearly 1,500 Indian troops have been deployed in Ladakh's Chumar where the forces are locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with Chinese soldiers at the border after the worst Chinese transgression in years, unusually at a time President Xi is in Delhi. (On President Xi Jinping's Day One in India, Over 1,000 Chinese Troops Intrude 4-5 Km Inside Ladakh)

"Yesterday the issues of substance have been raised at the highest level," foreign ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, adding that India will raise the incursions more extensively during talks today. (Read: We Must Always Be Friends, Says Chinese President Xi, As Border Strain Clouds His Visit)

Sources say the situation is under control and there is "nothing to panic" about. The Chinese have reportedly been halted and pushed back.

Nearly 1,000 armed Chinese troops crossed about five km into Indian territory yesterday, intensifying a stare-down that has been building up in the past two weeks in Ladakh's Chumur sector. (MoUs with China will Further Enrich Bilateral Ties: Narendra Modi)

India rushed reinforcements to Chumur after learning that the number of armed Chinese troops had spiked after the third such intrusion in a little over a week. A flag meeting between both sides ended late last night without any progress.

The standoff has cast a shadow on President Xi's visit to India, the first by a Chinese head of state in eight years.

PM Modi and the Chinese president today met in New Delhi. President Xi began his three-day visit with a six-hour stop at Gujarat. Both leaders had a warm meeting in Ahmedabad, where they strolled down the Sabarmati riverfront and had dinner by the river. (Chinese President, First Lady Treated to Gujarati Thali)

Sources say senior officials of the foreign and defence ministry were in talks with Beijing to defuse tension before PM Modi's meeting with President Xi today.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is reportedly monitoring the situation at the border.

The decades-old border dispute between the Asian rivals has surfaced with increasing frequency in the past two years.

In the latest instance, Chinese soldiers first entered almost a week ago at Chumur, which stands at the intersection of the international border and the Line of Actual Control or LAC.  They allegedly brought in in heavy construction equipment and a large labour force to set up a road up to the border.

Perhaps to divert focus from Chumur, the Chinese objected to an irrigation canal being built by Indians at Demchock about 80 km away and sent hundreds of civilians to protest. The standoff at Demchock is now between Indian and Chinese civilians. 40 Chinese soldiers are also camping there.

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