India’s defence minister visits LoC, says talks within ‘framework’

*Jaitley says Indian Army can stop ‘infiltrations’

SRINAGAR, Kashmir – India’s Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday visited the forward areas along the Line of Control in the Indian-held Jammu Kashmir, local media reported.

“Visited the (Indian) army posts at the LoC in the Haji Pir area. Our soldiers are doing a commendable job in safeguarding India,” Jaitley said in a tweet after the visit. “Our soldiers strive selflessly to maintain the sanctity of the LoC and in responding to any ceasefire violation,” he said.

Addressing a press conference here at the conclusion of his two-day visit to the state, Jaitley said that the Indian government was ready for dialogue with anyone who wants to talk, but within the framework of country’s constitution and its sovereignty. India’s Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh was also present on the occasion.

“We are prepared for a dialogue with anyone who is ready to talk to us within the framework of the Indian constitution and India’s sovereignty. These are two issues on which there can be no compromise,” he said on the possibility of talks with the Hurriyat Conference leadership.

The Indian minister said that there has been no political objective to his present visit to the state. “I came here to review the security situation and there has been no political objective to this visit,” he said. “After all discussions, I am quite optimistic about the situation in Jammu Kashmir. The Lok Sabha election has been held peacefully. A very good tourism season is going on here,” he noted.

“Towards the end of this month, the Shri Amarnathji Yatra will begin. Assessment is that it will be a peaceful and successful yatra. Life must go on peacefully here, and there should be overall development,” he said. “I visited forward areas in Uri sector of the LoC. I have reviewed the overall security at a meeting here today,” he said.

“The militants or infiltrators come here from across the Line of Control. Our army has sufficient strength to stop infiltrations,” he said without sharing proof with the media. “Ceasefire violations happen from across and our soldiers are well-equipped to respond and protect the borders,” he said.

“For the situation to normalise, it is absolutely necessary that these ceasefire violations must stop,” the defence minister said about resumption of dialogue with Pakistan. “Stopping ceasefire violations would be a big confidence building measure for the dialogue process to start,” he said. Jaitley said that Jammu Kashmir has suffered because of ‘insurgency’ and India was prepared to give whatever financial assistance was necessary to help the state.

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