World

Modi: India strong enough to fight foreign threats

NEW DELHI: India is strong enough to defend its borders against any threat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an Independence Day speech as the nation faces a frontier showdown with China and aggravated tensions with Pakistan.

"Security is our top priority," Mr Modi told thousands packed into the landmark Red Fort in New Delhi yesterday as India marked the 70th anniversary of the end of British colonial rule.

"Be it the sea or the borders, cyber or space - in all spheres, India is capable and we are strong enough to overcome those who try to act against our country," he declared.

Mr Modi, who wore a Rajasthani turban with a long flowing orange train, toned down his comments from three previous Independence Day speeches and did not mention the targets of his warning.

But his remarks came as a dispute between India and China over a strategic Himalayan plateau enters a third month.

Hundreds of soldiers are reported to be facing off against each other at Doklam.

The neighbours share a long history of mistrust and went to war in 1962.

The recent dispute started on June 16 when Chinese troops started to build a road on territory that it disputes with Bhutan. Indian troops moved in to stop the construction as India is a close ally of Bhutan.

India is also mired in conflict in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, where it has disputed sovereignty with Pakistan since their bitter split in 1947.

India accuses Pakistan of sending "terrorists" across the border to fight security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Mr Modi was conciliatory towards the Muslim-majority Himalayan region, saying neither "name-calling nor bullets" would be enough to pacify the region.

What was needed, he said, were "hugs" for Kashmiris. - AFP

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