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India conveys concern to China over presence in PoK

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, Sept 3, IRNA -- India on Friday conveyed its concerns to China over its presence in Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and its activities in that region.

The Indian move came in the wake of reports of presence of about 11,000 Chinese troops in Jammu and Kashmir's Gilgit-Baltistan region held by Pakistan.

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, pti reported 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.

Following the US news reports of PLA presence in PoK, India had said it would independently verify the matter which it dubbed as 'serious, if true'.

'If true, it would be a matter of serious concern and we would do all that is necessary to ensure safety and security of the nation,' External Affairs Ministry spokesman, Vishnu Prakash, had said on Monday when asked to comment on reports in 'The New York Times' about the influx of an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 PLA soldiers in Gilgit-Baltistan region.

In his meeting with the Chinese Vice Minister, Jaishankar reportedly also discussed the situation arising out of the denial of visa to Lt Gen B S Jaswal, Chief of Indian Army's North Command, by China apparently on the ground that he headed troops in Jammu and Kashmir, which Beijing considers a disputed territory.

He also discussed a host of other issues concerning Sino-Indian ties.

During the meeting Jaishankar referred to recent media reports, and the reference was apparently related to the New York Times recently that about 7,000 to 11,000 Chinese troops were present in Gilgit-Baltistan area of the PoK.

India, while expressing its concern, has said it is verifying the reports.

The Chinese side in response explained to the Indian envoy that the Chinese were present in the Gilgit area to help provide assistance to the people affected by recent floods, officials said.

During the meeting, the two sides also discussed a number of issues to improve the bilateral relationship, they said.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jiang Yu on Thursday denied the report, saying that it is a fabricated story aimed at destroying China's relations with Pakistan and India.

Prior to that, the Pakistan Ambassador to China, Masood Khan, too denied the report saying that only a Chinese humanitarian assistance team was present in the area to assist the victims of the recent floods.

India has already put on hold defence exchanges with China.

But Beijing said it has not yet received any official communication from India and its defence ties with New Delhi are intact.

Indian officials consider that China's policy of issuing stapled visas to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir since last year, culminating into denial of visa to the Gen Jaswal, is turning out to be a big stumbling block for both countries to step up their relations.

'About our visa policy toward inhabitants in the Indian controlled Kashmir region, the policy is consistent and stayed unchanged,' Jiang said in her press briefing on Thursday.

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