US-India joint military exercise has nothing to do with 1993, 1996 agreements: MEA on Chinese object

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External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi / File photo: ANI

New Delhi: India on Thursday rebuffed China's objection to the US-India joint military exercise Yudh Abhyas held in Auli, Uttarakhand, 100 kms away from the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

In a weekly media briefing by the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Arindam Bagchi said, "These exercises going on with the US in Auli has nothing to do with the 1993 and 1996 agreements. The Chinese side needs to reflect and think about its own breach of these agreements. India exercises with whomsoever it chooses and it doesn't give a veto to third countries on this issue."

Speaking on a Pentagon report on China and Beijing's warning to American officials not to interfere in its relationship with India, Bagchi said, "In our relations with the US we will not let anybody veto it. No one can have a veto on India-US ties, China needs to look into its own breaches. We want disengagement and de-escalation," he said after China pointed to breach of 1993 and 1996 LAC pacts with India over military exercise with the US in Auli.

Throughout its standoff with India along the LAC, Chinese officials sought to downplay the severity of the crisis, emphasizing Beijing's intent to preserve border stability and prevent the standoff from harming other areas of its bilateral relationship with India, the Pentagon said in a report on Tuesday.

"The PRC (People's Republic of China) seeks to prevent border tensions from causing India to partner more closely with the United States. PRC officials have warned US officials to not interfere with the PRC's relationship with India," the Pentagon said in its latest report on Chinese military build-up.

In a section on the China-India border, the Pentagon said throughout 2021, the PLA sustained the deployment of forces and continued infrastructure build-up along the LAC. Negotiations made minimal progress as both sides resist losing perceived advantages on the border, it said.

Beginning in May 2020, PRC and Indian forces faced off in clashes with rocks, batons, and clubs wrapped in barbed wire at multiple locations along the LAC.

The PRC blamed the standoff on Indian infrastructure construction, which it perceived as encroaching on PRC territory, while India accused China of launching aggressive incursions into India's territory.

Since the 2020 clash, the PLA has maintained a continuous force presence and continued infrastructure build-up along the LAC, added the report.

The 2020 Galwan Valley incident was the deadliest clash between the two nations in the past 46 years. On June 15th, 2020, patrols violently clashed in Galwan Valley resulting in about 20 Indian soldiers and the death of at least four PLA soldiers, according to PRC officials.

China on Wednesday said that the joint military exercise held by India and the US near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) violated the spirit of relevant agreements signed by China and India.

Speaking at a regular press conference, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said, "The joint military exercise held by India and the US near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) violated the spirit of relevant agreements signed by China and India in 1993 and 1996, and does not help build bilateral trust. China has expressed concerns to the Indian side over the military exercise."

India and US held the 18th edition of the joint military training exercise Yudh Abhyas in Auli, Uttarakhand, 100 km away from LAC.

"The 18th Edition of India-US joint training exercise #YudhAbhyas is scheduled to be conducted at #Auli. The joint exercise will focus on the employment of an Infantry Battalion Group in Peace Keeping & Disaster Relief operations under the #UN Mandate," tweeted the Additional Directorate General of Public Information, Indian Army.

It will help both countries to counter China by endorsing each other. The 15-day exercise will focus on high altitude, extremely cold climate warfare.

Exercise Yudh Abhyas is conducted annually between India and USA with the aim of exchanging best practices, Tactics, Techniques and Procedures between the armies of the two nations.

The previous edition of the exercise was conducted at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska (USA) in October 2021, read the Ministry of Defence press release.


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