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India-China standoff: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to visit Ladakh on Friday

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New Delhi, July 01: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Ladakh on Friday along with Army Chief General M M Naravane to review the security situation in Eastern Ladakh in view of the Chinese aggression along the Line of Actual Control.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to visit Ladakh on Friday

During the visit, Singh is expected to hold high-level meetings with senior military leadership, they said. Singh will be briefed about the situation along the LAC by the Northern Army Commander and Corps Commander.

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Singh will also meet with the soldiers who fought the Chinese during the violent brawl at the Galwan Valley on June 15.

The meeting comes after the third round of commander-level talks were held by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, the commander of India's Leh-based XIV corps, and his People's Liberation Army counterpart, South Xinjiang military region chief Major-General Liu Lin, on Tuesday.

Indian and Chinese armies have emphasised the need for an "expeditious, phased and step wise" de-escalation as a "priority" to end the seven-week bitter standoff in eastern Ladakh, during a nearly 12-hour corps commander-level meeting on Tuesday, government sources said.

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The Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for the last seven weeks, and the tension escalated manifold after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash in Galwan Valley on June 15. The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to give out the details.

In the talks on June 22, the two sides arrived at a "mutual consensus" to "disengage" from all the friction points in eastern Ladakh.

Following the Galwan Valley incident, the government has given the armed forces "full freedom" to give a "befitting" response to any Chinese misadventure along the LAC, the 3,500-km de-facto border.

The Army has sent thousands of additional troops to forward locations along the border in the last two weeks. The IAF has also moved air defence systems as well as a sizeable number of its frontline combat jets and attack helicopters to several key air bases.

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    The first round of the Lt General talks was held on June 6 during which both sides finalised an agreement to disengage gradually from all the standoff points beginning with Galwan Valley.

    However, the situation deteriorated following the Galwan Valley clashes as the two sides significantly bolstered their deployments in most areas along the LAC.

    The situation in eastern Ladakh deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on May 5 and 6. The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9.

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