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By Sanjeev Miglani and Cate Cadell
NEW DELHI / BEIJING, January 25 (Reuters) – Indian and Chinese troops were involved in a “minor confrontation” last week at a controversial stretch of their shared border in the eastern Himalayas, the Indian army, highlighting the tense situation at the border.
China said the two sides should refrain from escalating actions.
India and China, armed with nuclear weapons, have been at a tense stalemate since April in the western Himalayas and since then have reinforced their forces along the 3,800 km (2,350 km) border. miles).
“It is clarified that there was a minor confrontation in the Nakula region of northern Sikkim on January 20, 2021 and the same was resolved by local commanders in accordance with established protocols,” the Indian military said in a statement. He gave no details.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said he had nothing to offer on the incident, but urged India to show restraint.
I would like to stress, however, that the Chinese border troops are determined to maintain peace and quiet along the border with India. We urge the Indian side to work in the same direction as us and to refrain from any action that could worsen or complicate the situation along the border, ”he said during a regular press briefing.
“We hope that the two sides will take the appropriate steps to manage their differences and take concrete steps to safeguard peace and stability along the border.”
Sikkim is in the eastern Himalayas, thousands of miles from Ladakh where the military crisis began last year and erupted into hand-to-hand combat that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and an unknown number of Chinese victims.
Indian media reported that the latest dispute in Sikkim resulted in injuries to both sides. The military made no comment but advised caution on such reports. “Media are urged to refrain from overplaying or exaggerating reports which are factually inaccurate,” he said.
On Sunday, Indian and Chinese military commanders held talks for several hours to try to find a way out of the impasse. Several rounds of talks have taken place in recent months to disengage troops facing each other on inhospitable mountains in freezing weather.
No word has yet emerged on the latest round of negotiations.
The editor of the Chinese state-affiliated Global Times dismissed Indian media reports of a clash as false.
“This is fake news. From what I have learned, there is no record of this clash in the Chinese side patrol newspaper,” Hu Xijin said in a tweet.
“Small friction often occurs in the China-India border area, but a clash that has caused multiple injuries will certainly be recorded and reported,” Hu said.
India and China entered the war in 1962 and have not been able to resolve their border dispute since then. Both claim thousands of kilometers of territory under the control of the other.