India monitoring reports of bridge coming up in Pangong’s ‘occupied’ area: MEA

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Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday said he is aware of reports that a bridge is coming up across the Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh, adding, he is not sure if it is the second bridge or an expansion of the existing one, Hindustan Times reported.

While he refused to comment from the military perspective of the matter, Bagchi, however, said the area being referred to is most likely occupied, adding that such developments are being monitored by India.

On ties with China, he said the two nations continue to remain engaged militarily and diplomatically.

“We have seen reports on this bridge or a second bridge… we are monitoring the situation. Of course, we always felt it was occupied… Talks on with the Chinese side,” Bagchi said while addressing a press conference on Thursday.

He further spoke about Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s visit to India in March this year. “The external affairs minister (S Jaishankar) had said while talking to the media subsequently that the friction and tensions that arise from China’s deployments since April 2020 cannot be reconciled with a normal relationship between two neighbours,” Bagchi said.

The MEA spokesperson’s comments come in the backdrop of reports that China is constructing a second bridge across the Pangong Lake that will be capable of accommodating heavy armoured vehicles.

The development comes months after China reportedly constructed another bridge in the same region that is claimed by India.

The second bridge is reportedly being constructed parallel to the first bridge, which is narrower and was completed in April this year. The first bridge is being used to move equipment such as cranes needed to build the second one, according to experts who analysed the latest high-resolution satellite imagery of the site.

When reports about the construction of the first bridge linking the north and south banks of the strategic Pangong Lake emerged in January, the external affairs ministry said the structure is located in areas under illegal occupation by China for 60 years. Bagchi had then said India has never accepted such illegal occupation. (Hindustan Times)

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