The border stand-off between India and China has been “very nasty” and “they (China) are certainly going at it”, United States President Donald Trump told reporters at a White House press briefing on Friday. Mr Trump said he had raised this issue with both India and China, and the US was ready to help.
“While we’re at it, we’re talking about China and India, (they) are going at it pretty good on the border, as you know. It has been very nasty, ” Mr Trump said, adding, “And we stand ready to help, with respect to China and India”.
“If we can do anything, we would love to get involved and help. And we are talking to both countries about that,” he also said.
The US President’s comments come amid renewed tension between India and China over what the government called new attempts by Beijing to change the status quo in certain areas in eastern Ladakh.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met his Chinese counterpart in Moscow late Friday on the sidelines of a three-day summit, in the first high-level contact of its kind since the border stand-off erupted in May.
In a pointed message before the meeting, Mr Singh said peace and security in the region demanded a climate of trust, non-aggression, peaceful resolution of differences and respect for international rules.
The Indian Army said this week that it had blocked Chinese troops in the most serious clash since 20 Indian soldiers were killed in June; the violence in Ladakh’s Galwan was the worst between the two countries in decades.
These attempts were made even as the two nations are engaged in diplomatic and military talks – which have, so far, done little to resolve the border row.
Tensions at the border are now at some of the highest levels since the 1962 war, with China ordering a major build-up of tanks and infantry in the South Pangong region of eastern Ladakh.
India has reinforced its own tank formations in the area and deployed additional forces to shore up the heights that it holds along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the region.
There has also been heavy air activity along the LAC, with the Chinese Air Force stepping up fighter deployment from Ngari-Gunsa and Hotan air bases in Tibet.
Army Chief General MM Naravane has described the situation along the LAC as “tense”, but also that it could “resolved fully through talks”.
Earlier this week Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said that despite the threat of coordinated action along the northern and western fronts – an allusion to a joint Pakistan and China threat – India’s armed forces were capable of responding in “best suitable ways”.
This is not the first time that Donald Trump has offered to help mediate India-China tensions; in June, after 20 Indian soldiers died for their country, the US President called the border row a “very tough situation” and said, “We’re talking to India. We’re talking to China. They’ve got a big problem there”.
At that time the US had accused China of escalating border tension with India and other neighbours by trying to take advantage of the chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic.