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India rejects China's objection to Indo-US military drills in Uttarakhand in October

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New Delhi, Aug 25: India on Thursday rejected China's objection to an Indo-US military exercise in Uttarakhand in October. India's reaction came after China's defence ministry, referring to the planned exercise, said it was firmly opposed to any third party "meddling" in the border issue.

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The 18th edition of the exercise "Yudh Abhyas" is scheduled to take place from October 14 to 31 in Uttarakhand's Auli. "I do not understand the reference to third party interference. The India-US exercise is something completely different and I do not know what colour has been given that it is targeted there or it is violating any existing agreement," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

His comments came when asked at a media briefing about the remarks on the exercise by a spokesperson of China's Ministry of National Defence (MND) .

In his remarks, Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, also hoped that India will abide by the bilateral agreements not to hold military drills near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the very pacts it has been accused of violating in eastern Ladakh leading to a prolonged standoff.

"The two sides should stick to the agreements (signed) in the past and obviously that did not happen," Bagchi said, in an apparent reference to China violating the agreements triggering the face-off in eastern Ladakh. Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a standoff in a number of friction points in eastern Ladakh for over two years.

The two sides carried out the disengagement process in several areas in the region as a result of high-level military talks. India has been consistently maintaining that peace and tranquillity along the LAC were key for the overall development of the bilateral ties.

Asked about India's vote at the UN Security Council to allow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to deliver a virtual address, Bagchi suggested it was not against Russia. "My understanding is that we have not voted against anybody. It was a proposal to allow him to speak virtually and we supported it. I think it was the third occasion when he spoke virtually. There were two occasions in the past when he spoke virtually," Bagchi said.

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