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China Rejects NYT Report Of Presence Of Troops In Gilgit

BEIJING : China on Thursday dismissed reports saying troops of the People's Liberation Army are in a disputed area of Pakistan. The New York Times ran an opinion piece last week which said up to
PTI September 02, 2010 16:09 IST
PTI
BEIJING : China on Thursday dismissed reports saying troops of the People's Liberation Army are in a disputed area of Pakistan.

The New York Times ran an opinion piece last week which said up to 11,000 soldiers of the People's Liberation Army were in Gilgit, a northwest area of disputed Kashmir.

"The story that China has deployed some military in the northern part of Pakistan is totally groundless and out of ulterior purposes," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular briefing.

"Some people are making fabrications to destroy relations between China, Pakistan and India but their attempt will arrive nowhere," she said.

The piece by Selig Harrison, director of the Asia program at the U.S.-based Center for International Policy, said China wants control of the region to get clear road and rail access to the Gulf through Pakistan. It said many of the soldiers are working on a railway link.

The article comes amid reports of military unease between China and India.

Earlier this week China said it had not received word from New Delhi that it had suspended military exchanges, despite Indian media reports that relations had been put on hold after Beijing refused to grant a visa to a top Indian army general posted in Jammu and Kashmir.

An anonymous senior Indian official was quoted in the Hindu newspaper Saturday as saying that future military exchanges and a joint exercise between Indian and Chinese defense forces would remain suspended until China resolves the issue.

China's Ministry of National Defense said in a statement faxed to AP that it had not suspended the exchanges nor received word from India about any suspension.

Indian media reports said the suspension was New Delhi's response to Beijing denying a visa for Indian army Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal, who was scheduled to join a military delegation to China. Jaswal was denied a visa because he is responsible for army operations in Jammu and Kashmir, the reports said.

 Jiang said such reports were untrue and that Beijing had no intention to interfere in the Kashmir dispute. "As a neighbor and friend of both countries, China believes that the issue should be left to the two countries so that it can be properly handled through dialogue and consultation."

While relations between China and India have improved in recent years, they are still testy over territorial claims dating back to a brief border war in 1962.

In recent years, India and China have held more than a dozen rounds of talks on settling the border dispute but have made little progress. AP