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Rajnath Singh salutes courage of soldiers during Eastern Ladakh standoff

KEVADIA (GUJARAT): Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday saluted the selfless courage displayed by soldiers during the Eastern Ladakh standoff.

Singh had addressed the Combined Commanders' Conference at Kevadia today.

Taking to Twitter, the Minister said, "India's resolute response on the borders has helped in a positive and peaceful resolution of certain significant issues. I salute the selfless courage displayed by the soldiers during the recent Eastern Ladakh standoff."

Twenty Indian soldiers had laid their lives and unspecified numbers of Chinese soldiers were killed in the Galwan Valley in June last year. India and China are in a standoff in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), following aggressive border skirmishes by the Chinese army.

"I spoke (with commanders) on a wide range of issues pertaining to the defence and security of the nation, the emerging nature of military threats, the critical role of the Armed Forces in meeting these challenges and the nature of warfare in future," he said in another tweet.

"Our ability to secure India's territorial integrity and sovereignty from external threats and internal challenges have been strengthened in the recent years. Our forces today are proactive and more resolute in their response," Singh further said.

"We are working towards increasing jointness in the armed forces. The optimal utilisation of our resources and rationalisation of manpower holds the key to jointness and better coordination between the forces," the Minister added.

Singh also remarked that the armed forces are capable to protect our nation's interests, adding that India has nurtured close relations and partnerships with like-minded countries to further the common security interests.

The Defence Minister defined the elements of national interest and assured to protect the territorial integrity and ensure peace in the region.

"Our national interests are defined by the elements of National integration, sovereignty, sociology-economic development, conservation of our values and peaceful and harmonious region and world. We are committed to protect the territorial integrity and ensure peace in the region," he said in a subsequent tweet.

"We as a country are looking to strengthen our ability to create secure and stable environment that can facilitate India's economic growth. Our enhanced defence capabilities will allow us to be better prepared for contingencies," the Defence Minister added.

On February 21, asserting that the disengagement process by India and China in eastern Ladakh has been 'completed' after nine rounds of diplomatic and military level talks between the two countries, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hit out at Congress for 'doubting' the bravery and valour of Indian soldiers.

The Indian Army also expressed heartfelt appreciation to jawans who played role in the Eastern Ladakh standoff.

"He spoke on the emerging nature of military threats, the critical role of Armed Forces in meeting threats and anticipated changes in the nature of warfare in future. He expressed heartfelt appreciation and respect to the courage displayed by jawans during the Eastern Ladakh standoff with PLA": read a statement by the Indian Army.

Rajnath Singh commenced his two-day visit to Gujarat today.

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PTI