India PM Modi raises China border incursions with Chinese president

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue of incursions by Chinese troops on the disputed border during talks with visiting President Xi Jinping, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told AFP the issue was discussed on Wednesday evening during Xi's rare visit to India amid reports of a standoff involving hundreds of troops from both sides in the remote Himalayan Ladakh region.

The incursion threatens to overshadow Xi's three-day visit, which includes more formal talks with Modi in New Delhi on Thursday that had been expected to focus on forging stronger investment and strategic ties.

Separately, Akbaruddin told reporters that the border issue was expected to be raised again during talks on Thursday.

"The summit meetings are occasion for leaders to raise all substantive issues having bearing on bilateral ties," said the spokesman. "The prime minister took the opportunity to raise the issue last night with the visiting dignitary," he told reporters, when asked about the latest reported incursion.

As many as 1,000 Chinese troops had crossed over the border in Chumar in the southern area of Ladakh, according to the NDTV network and other local media. A meeting between representatives of the two armies was held on Wednesday along their 3,380-km long disputed border known as the Line of Actual Control, the reports said.

"About 1,000 Chinese troops crossed into the India side," a local lawmaker from Modi's party told AFP on condition of anonymity. "The government has sent reinforcements. A flag meeting was also held last night (to try to diffuse the situation)," he added.

The neighbours, now nuclear-armed, fought a brief but bloody war in 1962 over the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas, and are still embroiled in a bitter dispute over the territory.

Last April, India accused Chinese troops of intruding deep into Indian-held territory, sparking a three-week stand-off that was resolved when troops from both sides pulled back. Small incursions of a few kilometres across the contested boundary are common but a mass build up of troops in the disputed territory is rare.