New Delhi, June 16 (efe-epa).- The Indian Army on Tuesday said it lost three soldiers, including an officer, during a Himalayan border standoff with Chinese troops in the high-altitude Ladakh region where the two countries have accused each other of trespass in a weekslong boundary impasse.
The clash took place during the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, one of the standoff points in the eastern Ladakh sector, an official statement from the Indian Army said.
“A violent face-off took place yesterday (Monday) night with casualties. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers,” the statement said.
The statement said senior military officials of the two sides were currently meeting at the venue “to defuse the situation”.
The two rival nuclear-powered neighbors have been locked in a bitter border dispute after India allegedly started constructing roads and an airstrip in the disputed region, which is also claimed by Pakistan.
There have been reports of the two sides reinforcing their defenses on the de facto border called the Line of Actual Control (LAC), raising fears about an extended standoff.
The boundary line, not recognized as an international border, demarcates Indian-held and Chinese-held disputed territory of what was once part of the Tibet region.
Amid the escalating border tension, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said that India was “no longer a weak nation” and its “national pride” would not be compromised.
“While China has expressed the desire to resolve the (border) issue through talks, our effort is to find a solution to the trouble between China and India through talks at the military and diplomatic levels,” Singh said, addressing a virtual rally for village heads.
“We do not want to use this strength to frighten anyone. It is only to secure our country. I can say with confidence that we will not do any sort of compromise with our national pride. I assure you about it,’’ he said.
United States President Donald Trump last month offered to mediate the dispute between India and China.
“We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing, and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute,” Trump said in a Twitter post on May 27.
The two armies have been holding talks to limit the disengagement of troops amid the raging conflict.
China has been insisting that India should stop construction near the de facto border while India says it was building infrastructure on its side of the border and that China should withdraw its troops.
The border dispute dates back to 1962 when the two countries fought a bitter war that ended in a temporary truce settlement with the two sides sticking to their claims along the LAC. EFE-EPA