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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar dismissed China’s repeated claims on Arunachal Pradesh as “ludicrous” and asserted that the frontier state is a “natural part of India”.

In his first public comments on China’s frequent claims on Arunachal Pradesh and its opposition to Indian leaders visiting the state, S Jaishankar said it is not a new issue. “This is not a new issue. I mean China has laid claim, it has expanded its claim. The claims are ludicrous to begin with and remain ludicrous today,” he said responding to a question on the issue after a lecture at the NUS Institute of South Asian Studies in Singapore.

He emphasised that Arunachal Pradesh is a “natural part of India”.

“So, I think we’ve been very clear, very consistent on this. And I think you know that is something which will be part of the boundary discussions that are taking place,” he said.

Mr Jaishankar’s comments came days after the Ministry of External Affairs dismissed the Chinese defence ministry’s assertions.

“We have noted the comments made by the spokesperson of the Chinese Defence Ministry advancing absurd claims over the territory of the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh.

“Repeating baseless arguments in this regard does not lend such claims any validity. Arunachal Pradesh was, is, and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India. Its people will continue to benefit from our development programmes and infrastructure projects,” the MEA said.

Earlier, the Chinese foreign ministry objected to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

“We reject the comments made by the Chinese side regarding the visit of the Prime Minister to Arunachal Pradesh. Indian leaders visit Arunachal Pradesh from time to time, as they visit other states of India,” the MEA said last week.

Objecting to such visits or India’s developmental projects does not stand to reason. Further, it will not change the reality that the state of Arunachal Pradesh was, is, and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India. The Chinese side has been made aware of this consistent position on several occasions, the statement read.