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Eastern Ladakh standoff: Rajnath expresses confidence in finding peaceful resolution

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at the Army Commanders Conference. Photo: PIB

NEW DELHI (PTI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday expressed confidence that the ongoing talks between China and India for a peaceful resolution of the eastern Ladakh standoff will continue while Indian troops stand "firm" in the region.

In an address at a conference of the top Army Commanders, he said ensuring the availability of the best weapons, equipment and clothing to the troops braving extreme weather and "hostile forces" to defend territorial integrity is a national responsibility.

The defence minister also commended the Army for its firm response to cross border terrorism.

"Commenting on the current situation along the Northern borders, the Raksha Mantri expressed full confidence that while troops are standing firm, the ongoing talks for peaceful resolution of crisis will continue," the defence ministry said in a statement.

His comments came over two weeks after the 13th round of military talks between Indian and Chinese armies ended in a stalemate with both sides blaming each other for the impasse.

In a strong statement after the talks, the Indian Army said the "constructive suggestions" made by it at the negotiations were neither agreeable to the Chinese side nor Beijing could provide any "forward-looking" proposals.

Referring to the situation along the border with Pakistan, Singh complimented the Indian Army's response to cross border terrorism.

"I compliment the excellent synergy between the CAPF/ police forces and the Army in tackling the menace of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. The synergised operations in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is getting the region to a stable and peaceful environment conducive for overall growth and development," he said.

In his remarks, Singh reaffirmed the faith of the billion-plus citizens on the Indian Army as one of the most trusted and inspiring organisations in the country.

"I have full confidence in the senior Military leadership. The nation is proud of its Army and the government is committed to facilitate the Army in their forward movement, on road to reforms and capability developments," he said.

The four-day-long conference of the top commanders of the Indian Army began on Monday and it has carried out a comprehensive review of India's security challenges including in eastern Ladakh, other areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Jammu and Kashmir.

The defence minister complimented the forces for the high standard of operational preparedness and capabilities, saying he personally experienced it during visits to various forward areas.

Singh also paid tributes to all the "bravehearts" who made supreme sacrifices in the line of duty.

"The government is focused on enhancing combat capability and ensuring the welfare of soldiers," he said, adding the policy of Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) in the defence sector is a major step to meet the future requirements of the armed forces.

He applauded the Indian Army for working towards this goal and remarked that 74 per cent of its contracts by the Army were awarded to Indian vendors in 2020-2021 in keeping with the 'self-reliant India' initiative.

"There are no budgetary constraints for capability development and meeting other requirements of the Army," he said.

Singh said that the decision to grant permanent commission to women officers in the Army is another significant decision that will ensure equal opportunities for professional growth to all officers irrespective of their gender.

He also complimented the significant contributions made by the Army in military diplomacy to further our national security interests by creating sustainable cooperative relationships with foreign Armies.

In his address, Singh also commended the efforts of the Border Roads Organisation saying it is working under difficult conditions to connect far-flung areas so that citizens living in those locations are connected.

He also applauded the armed forces for aptly incorporating the latest technologies.

The ministry said Singh appreciated the Army's efforts to develop niche technologies in collaboration with civil industries including premier educational institutions.

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