India building airfields along China border: Mukherjee

October 23rd, 2008 - 5:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 23 (IANS) India is constructing a number of airfields close to the border with China to counter any potential threats even though the two countries have taken taken adequate measures to ensure peace along the frontier, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told parliament Thursday.”Thirteen operational roads are to be completed in Arunachal Pradesh. We are also constructing airports (airfields) close to the border,” he said while replying to a supplementary during question hour in the Rajya Sabha.

“It is true that the infrastructure on the other side is better,” he said in response to a supplementary from Shobhana Bharatiya, an independent MP.

Responding to the main question on Chinese incursions along the Line of Actual Control, Mukherjee attributed these to the “different perceptions” of the two countries.

“There is a disputed area of 38,000 sq km that we say China has illegally occupied. In addition, there are 5,000 sq km that Pakistan has ceded to China from the part of Kashmir it controls. China thinks Arunachal Pradesh is part of its territory.

“There are these different perceptions and, therefore, there are incursions,” said Mukherjee adding that the two countries had worked out a mechanism to deal with the issue.

“The government regularly takes up any instances of violations,” he added.

In this context, Mukherjee noted that the two countries had reached agreement in 1993 to maintain peace and tranquility on the frontier. Thereafter, in 2003, they had appointed their special representatives to work toward a solution to the border dispute.

The special representatives had met 12 times in the last five years, the minister said.

This apart, India and China had exchanged maps of the border - as each country perceived it - in the middle sector but were yet to do so for the east and west sectors, Mukherjee said.

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