India said it exercises with whomsoever it chooses to and that a third country should avoid talking about it

India has rejected China’s objections to joint India-US military exercise ‘Yudh Abhyas’ being held in Uttarakhand, about 100 km from the Line of Actual Control.

Last month, India and the US army began the 18th edition of their joint military exercise in Auli with the aim of exchanging best practices, tactics, techniques, and procedures between the armies of the two countries.

On Wednesday, China expressed its concern on the joint military exercise held by India and the US near the Line of Actual Control in the border area, stating it “violated the spirit of relevant agreements signed by China and India in 1993 and 1996, and does not help build bilateral trust.”

Responding to China’s remarks, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday said, “India exercises with whomsoever it chooses to, and it does not give a veto to third countries on the issue.”

The MEA Spokesperson further said that the joint military exercise has “nothing to do with the 1993 and the 1996 agreements.” Since the Chinese side has raised these agreements, “the Chinese side needs to reflect and think about its own breach of these agreements of 1993 and 1996,” he said.

Tension escalated between India and China in the wake of a violent clash between soldiers of the two countries in the Galwan Valley in the eastern Ladakh on June 15, 2020. As many as 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the most violent clash between the two countries in 45 years.

Both India and China continue to deploy tens of thousands of soldiers, backed by tanks, artillery, and fighter aircraft along the Line of Actual Control.

After several rounds of talks between military commanders of the two countries, Chinese soldiers have pulled back from the Gogra Hot Springs (patrolling point 15), the North and South banks of the Pangong Lake and the Hot Springs. The Chinese side has yet to disengage from the strategically important Depsang Plains.

Earlier, the Ministry of Defence said that US Army soldiers of 2nd Brigade of the 11th Airborne Division and Indian Army soldiers from the Assam Regiment are participating in the India-US joint military exercise in Auli in Uttarakhand.

“The training schedule focuses on employment of an integrated battle group under Chapter VII of the UN Mandate. The schedule will include all operations related to peacekeeping and peace enforcement. The troops from both nations will work together to achieve common objectives,” the Ministry of Defence said.

“The scope of the Field Training Exercise includes validation of integrated battle groups, force multipliers, establishment and functioning of surveillance grids, validation of operational logistics, mountain warfare skills, casualty evacuation and combat medical aid in adverse terrain and climatic conditions. The exercise will involve exchanges and practices on a wide spectrum of combat skills including combat engineering, employment of UAS/Counter UAS techniques and information operations,” the Ministry added.