'India cannot accept any unilateral change of LAC'
New Delhi: As the over seven-month-long border standoff with China showed no signs of solution, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said India cannot accept any unilateral change of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and hoped the Ladakh deadlock will be resolved through talks.
Asserting that India has always been in favour of peace, Singh also said the country can never compromise on its dignity and self-respect.
The defence minister said there was a possibility of more talks at the military and diplomatic levels.
India and China are locked in a military standoff in eastern Ladakh since early May and have held multiple rounds of diplomatic and military parleys without any concrete outcome.
"No, how can this happen? The situation will remain the same as before. India cannot accept unilateral change," Singh told PTI-Bhasha when asked whether China was trying to change the LAC to make it a permanent one.
Nearly 50,000 troops of the Indian Army are deployed in a high state of combat readiness in various mountainous locations in eastern Ladakh in sub-zero temperatures. China has also deployed an equal number of troops, according to officials.
"The talks are going on....There is a possibility of more talks at the military and diplomatic levels. India has always been in favour of peace. So, we hope a solution will be found out through talks," Singh said.
The defence minister also said India wants to maintain good relations with all the neighbouring countries.
"China is our neighbour and there should be no aggression on their part. We want to maintain good relations with neighbouring countries. The history of India has also been that we have never attacked any country or occupied one inch of land of others. But it is also a fact that India can never compromise on its dignity and self-respect," he said.
The face-off began on May 5 following violent clashes between the armies of India and China in the Pangong lake area. The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9.
India and China held the last round of diplomatic talks on December 18 during which they agreed to continue work towards ensuring complete disengagement of troops in all friction points along the LAC in eastern Ladakh at the "earliest".
Meanwhile, the government on Wednesday said 39 Indian sailors stuck in China will be brought back soon as diplomatic talks are on with the neighbouring country.
Two cargo vessels with a total of 39 Indians on board have been on anchorage in Chinese waters as they were not allowed to unload their cargo though some other ships have managed to do so.
"Diplomatic talks are going on for this successfully. Our seafarers will come to India soon," Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said in reply to a query about sailors being stuck in China for the last seven months during Cabinet briefing. China on December 25 had said that there is no 'link' between stranded Indian ship crew on its Chinese ports and its strained relations with India and Australia.
The statement had come a day after the External Affairs Ministry had said that two cargo vessels with a total of 39 Indians on board have been on anchorage in Chinese waters as they were not allowed to unload their cargo.