India on Friday conveyed its concerns to China over its presence in Azad Kashmir and its engagements there.

According to Indian media reports, the move came in the wake of reports of presence of about 11,000 Chinese troops in Jammu and Kashmir’s Gilgit-Baltistan region.

The Indian concerns over Chinese “activity and presence” were conveyed by ambassador to China S Jaishankar during a meeting with their vice minister for foreign affairs Zhang Zhijun in Beijing on Friday, Times of India newspaper said quoting officials at the Indian embassy.

Jaishankar also conveyed India’s concerns over the presence of Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) troops in the region. However, China had on Thursday rejected reports that its troops were in Gilgit region in northern Kashmir.

Jaishankar returned to Beijing on Thursday from Delhi where he had briefed the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on the developments regarding China. The CCS chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had discussed the matter on Tuesday.

China has reiterated its position on the Kashmir dispute by saying that the matter should be resolved between Pakistan and India peacefully through dialogue process.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jiang Yu, briefing the newsmen in Beijing said, “As a neighbour and friend of both countries, China believes that the dispute should be left to the two countries so that it can be properly handled through dialogue and consultation.”

She maintained that there would be no change in China’s policy of issuing stapled visas to residents of occupied Kashmir.

China says reports of troops in Pakistan wrong

Soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) take part in a training session at a military base in Taiyuan, Shanxi province. – Reuters (File Photo) BEIJING: China on Thursday dismissed reports saying troops of the People’s Liberation Army are in a disputed area of Pakistan.

The New York Times ran an opinion piece last week which said up to 11,000 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army were in Gilgit, a northwest area of disputed Kashmir. ‘’The story that China has deployed some military in the northern part of Pakistan is totally groundless and out of ulterior purposes,’’ Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular briefing. ‘’Some people are making fabrications to destroy relations between China, Pakistan and India but their attempt will arrive nowhere,’’ she said.

The piece by Selig Harrison, director of the Asia program at the US-based Center for International Policy, said China wants control of the region to get clear road and rail access to the Gulf through Pakistan. It said many of the soldiers are working on a railway link. The article comes amid reports of military unease between China and India.

Earlier this week China said it had not received word from New Delhi that it had suspended military exchanges, despite Indian media reports that relations had been put on hold after Beijing refused to grant a visa to a top Indian army general from the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. An anonymous senior Indian official was quoted in the Hindu newspaper Saturday as saying that future military exchanges and a joint exercise between Indian and Chinese defense forces would remain suspended until China resolves the issue.

China’s Ministry of National Defense said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press that it had not suspended the exchanges nor received word from India about any suspension.

Indian media reports said the suspension was New Delhi’s response to Beijing denying a visa for Indian army Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal, who was scheduled to join a military delegation to China. Jaswal was denied a visa because he is responsible for army operations in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir, the reports said.

Jiang said such reports were untrue and that Beijing had no intention to interfere in the Kashmir dispute. ‘’As a neighbor and friend of both countries, China believes that the issue should be left to the two countries so that it can be properly handled through dialogue and consultation.’’ India and Pakistan, an ally of China, both control part of the Himalayan region while claiming all of it. China also claims part of northeastern Kashmir that it says is part of Tibet.

While relations between China and India have improved in recent years, they are still testy over territorial claims dating back to a brief border war in 1962. In recent years, India and China have held more than a dozen rounds of talks on settling the border dispute but have made little progress.

Beijing is also highly critical of India’s support for the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959 and set up a government-in-exile in the northern Indian hill town of Dharmsala. —Agencies

Source: Daily Mail