Says India and China should find a solution and demarcate the border

Defence Minister A.K. Antony has said he doesn’t rule out the possibility of occasional border disputes erupting between India and China in the coming years.

Fielding queries from the media after commissioning Coast Guard’s fast patrol vessel Abheek at the Cochin Shipyard here on Tuesday, Mr. Antony said India had a long border with China, with vast, unsettled areas of dispute on the Line of Actual Control.

“I don’t expect a miracle to happen immediately. Unless both countries find a solution and demarcate the border, I don’t rule out the possibility of occasional disputes,” he responded to a question on increasing incidence of border face-off between India and China in year 2013.

However, unlike in the past, both countries were now able to engage in talks soon after such occurrences and settle differences amicably. This was a silver lining, but a total elimination of standoffs would be hard to come by immediately, he said.

Asked if the strained Indo-U.S. relations over the arrest of Indian Deputy Consul General in New York Devyani Khobragade would adversely impact defence ties between the two countries, Mr. Antony said it would have no ramifications on the defence relationship. “Defence is a different sector. The Ministry of External Affairs is handling the issue [pertaining to the arrest]. It is not going to affect our defence relationship.”

On the arrest of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, he said attempts were being made by the Ministry of External Affairs to secure release of the fishermen.

Mr. Antony described the Coast Guard as the fastest growing organisation in the Defence Ministry’s extended family and said thanks to the combined efforts of the Coast Guard and the Navy, India’s shoreline was much more secure now.

Earlier, speaking at the commissioning ceremony, he said the Navy and the Coast Guard, which were on an augmentation drive, had almost every warship of theirs constructed indigenously.

Domestic warship construction in public and private sectors was picking up and production at the rate of five warships each year would happen for the next five years.

Mr. Antony promised to seriously look into a memorandum submitted by various trade unions of the Cochin Shipyard seeking the yard’s retention in the competition for construction of four landing platform docks (LPD) for the Navy.

Earlier, Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs K.V. Thomas raised the issue, requesting Mr. Antony’s intervention to grant more shipbuilding orders to the yard.

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