India’s defence minister said Monday that China’s comments on his visit to a territory disputed by the neighbours were “highly objectionable,” sparking a new war of words over the contested border.
Beijing on Saturday reportedly called for India “to work with China to maintain peace and stability in border areas” and called for restraint to prevent complications in the dispute over Arunachal Pradesh, a northeastern Indian state which China claims in full.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony visited the far-flung and highly militarised territory earlier this month to mark its 25th year as an Indian state. He promised better infrastructure and improved accessibility.
“I was surprised to read the Chinese reaction. It is very sad and highly objectionable. Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India,” he told reporters on Monday, according to the CNN-IBN television channel.
The 2,000-kilometre (1,200-mile) border between India and China has been the subject of talks since the 1980s after the two nations fought a brief but brutal war in 1962.
The 15th round of talks aimed at resolving the dispute took place in New Delhi in January but wrapped up without any major progress.
Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said Sunday that “India will not tolerate external interference of China into the Indian territorial affairs”