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No confrontation with China: Antony

Source: PTI
June 10, 2008 13:54 IST
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Recent reports of Chinese incursions and Beijing's claims over chunks of Indian territory notwithstanding, Defence Minister A K Antony on Tuesday said that India will follow a non-confrontationist approach towards its neighbours.

"We are not ignoring these incidents. To a maximum extent, we will try to avoid confrontation," Antony told reporters after inaugurating a conference of top commanders of the Integrated Defence Staff, drawn from the three wings of the armed forces.

Over 150 incursions into Indian territory by China's Peoples Liberation Army troops have been reported in the last one year, apart from claims over Indian territory, including the recent controversy over the Finger Area in north Sikkim, which was assumed settled till now.

During the recent visit of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Beijing, the Chinese reportedly tried to corner India by raising the Finger Area issue.

"We are in the process of finding solutions to the long standing disputes with China, and the process is continuing," Antony said.

Stating that the United Progressive Alliance government will not compromise on national interest and security, the minister, who recently visited defence personnel in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim along the border with China, said the armed forces were ready to meet any challenge.

"There is a national consensus for a dialogue with China and the 11th round of the talks was held recently. It will only be appropriate to find solutions through dialogue. At the same time, national security will not be compromised," Antony said.

Responding to the recent Pakistani announcement of a freeze in their defence budget and the cuts in the Chinese defence budget, Antony said India's defence spending did not match the economic boom that the country had witnessed in the recent past.

"Our defence budget is just 1.99 per cent of the gross domestic product, which is one of the lowest in the world. The ideal situation would be 3 per cent of the GDP, which is the global average," he added.

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