New Delhi: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday announced that Siachen Glacier, which is the world’s highest battlefield, is now open for tourists and tourism. “From Siachen Base Camp to Kumar Post, the entire area has been opened for tourism purposes,” he stated.

The announcement for the opening up of Siachen for tourists comes a few days ahead of Ladakh being declared a separate Union Territory on October 31.

The Defence Minister made the announcement when he was in Ladakh, along with Army chief General Bipin Rawat, to inaugurate a strategically located bridge across the Shyok River. The bridge will provide easy connectivity with the Daulat Beg Oldi sector along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.

“Delighted to dedicate to the nation the newly constructed ‘Colonel Chewang Rinchen Bridge’ at Shyok River, Ladakh, it will not only provide all-weather connectivity in the region but also be a strategic asset in border areas,” he said.

Talking about the Kashmir issue with China, the minister said that Kashmir is India’s internal and integral matter. “Even the Chinese President Xi Jinping did not mention Kashmir in his meeting with PM Narendra Modi in Mahabalipuram. China’s recent statement for action against terror is also significant,” he stated.

Talking about the recent developments regarding Indo-China relationship, Rajnath said that India shares a cordial relation with China. “There are perceptional differences between both the countries on boundary issue but the issue has been handled with great maturity and responsibly. Both the countries have not allowed the situation to escalate or go out of hand,” he stated.

On Monday, Rajnath had left for Ladakh to visit forward areas in the region with Army Chief General Bipin Rawat and to inaugurate a strategic bridge on Shyok River.

“Leaving New Delhi for Ladakh. Shall visit the forward areas with the CoAS, General Bipin Rawat. Looking forward to attending the inaugural ceremony of a strategically important bridge over Shyok River,” the Defence Minister had tweeted.

Over 45 km east of Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, the strategic bridge across the Shyok River will reduce travel time by about half and help in the development of border areas and villages across the river.

Prior to the inauguration of the bridge, the Defence Minister reviewed the security situation in the region which shares borders with both China and Pakistan.