BEIJING - China on Thursday dismissed as ‘entirely groundless’ Indian Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh’s assertion that PLA soldiers were present in Azad Kashmir. “The allegation that Chinese soldiers are present in the Azad Kashmir is entirely groundless,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. Hong first skipped answering a question on Gen Singh’s charge at a media briefing here, but later sent an e-mail to a news agency denying the allegation. While denying the Chinese troops’ presence, Hong stated Thursday that China’s stand on Kashmir remained clear and consistent that it was an issue to be resolved by India and Pakistan through negotiations. “Kashmir is left over (by history) between India and Pakistan. As a neighbour of India and Pakistan, China maintains that the relevant issue be resolved through dialogue and negotiations between India and Pakistan.” Gen Singh had said in New Delhi the previous day that Chinese soldiers were present in AJK to provide security to its ongoing railways and road projects there. Bikram said that India had “lost lot of lives” and “shed a lot of blood” to command the icy heights and favoured holding on to the 70-km-long glacier in Jammu and Kashmir.Gen Singh also noted that Siachen glacier is of “strategic importance” to India and that the Indian Army’s position on withdrawal of troops from one of the most uninhabitable spots on earth remained unchanged.“These positions are of strategic importance to us,” he told reporters.”It has not changed at all,” he said when asked about the Indian Army’s position on Siachen and the demilitarisation proposed by Pakistan.”It is very important...we must continue to hold that area and that’s what we have maintained always,” he asserted.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 21-Sep-2012 here.