Defence Minister begins 3-day visit to Ladakh

New Delhi, June 27: The dedication of Indian soldiers and veterans towards the country is an “exemplary example”, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Sunday soon after arriving in Ladakh on a three-day visit aimed at taking stock of India’s military preparedness in the region in the face of a prolonged border row with China.
In Leh, Singh interacted with senior elected representatives of Kargil, Leh and Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council with a focus on the overall development of the regions, officials said. The defence minister, accompanied by Army Chief Gen MM Naravane, also met a number of armed forces veterans and discussed issues relating to their welfare as well as national security.
“The dedication of our soldiers and veterans towards the country is an exemplary example. I express my gratitude from the bottom of my heart to all,” Singh said on the occasion. “Our aim is that all of you should be taken care of in the same way you had taken care of the country’s security. Despite this, if you have any problems somewhere, then a helpline has been arranged for to address them,” his office quoted him as saying.
Official sources said the defence minister will carry out a comprehensive review of India’s operational readiness in eastern Ladakh amid a stalemate in the next stage of disengagement with China at several friction points. His visit to the sensitive region comes two days after India and China held a fresh round of diplomatic talks to resolve the prolonged military standoff that began last year.
The defence minister is scheduled to visit various key formations and high-altitude bases in the region to assess the ground realities as well as to boost the morale of the troops guarding the Line of Actual Control in a hostile environment. It is Singh’s first visit to eastern Ladakh after the Indian and Chinese militaries pulled back troops, tanks, infantry and other equipment from the Pangong lake areas in February as part of an agreement.
The disengagement process in the remaining friction points including Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang is deadlocked as China is reluctant to withdraw its troops from these areas. At a virtual meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on border affairs on Friday, India and China agreed to hold the next round of military talks at an early date to achieve the objective of complete disengagement in remaining friction points. (PTI)

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