Trump offers to ‘mediate or arbitrate’ between India and China over border standoff
Washington: In a surprise move, US President Donald Trump on Wednesday offered to “mediate or arbitrate” the raging border dispute between India and China, saying he was “ready, willing and able” to ease the tensions, amid the continuing standoff between the armies of the two Asian giants.
Trump previously offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, a proposal rejected by New Delhi which maintains that there is no role for any third party in bilateral issues.
“We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute. Thank you!” Trump said in a predawn tweet.
Trump’s unexpected offer came a week after a senior US diplomat accused China of engaging in border clashes with India in an attempt to shift the status quo.
Alice G Wells, the top US diplomat for South Asia, had also encouraged India to resist China’s aggressive behaviour.
“If you look to the South China Sea, there’s a method here to Chinese operations, and it is that constant aggression, the constant attempt to shift the norms, to shift what is the status quo. “It has to be resisted,” said Wells, on May 20 at the Atlantic Council here, days before she retired.
China dismissed the statement of Wells as “nonsense” the next day. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman also said that consultations were going on through diplomatic channels between Beijing and New Delhi, and Washington has “nothing to do” with it.
The nearly 3,500-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the de-facto border between India and China.
Several areas along the LAC in Ladakh and North Sikkim have witnessed major military build-up by both the Indian and Chinese armies recently, in a clear signal of escalating tension and hardening of respective positions by the two sides even two weeks after they were engaged in two separate face-offs.
But on Wednesday, China took an apparently conciliatory tone by saying that the situation at the border with India is “overall stable and controllable,” and both the countries have proper mechanisms and communication channels to resolve the issues through a dialogue and consultation.
India has said the Chinese military was hindering normal patrolling by its troops along the LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim and strongly refuted Beijing’s contention that the escalating tension between the two armies was triggered by trespassing of Indian forces across the Chinese side.
The Ministry of External Affairs said all Indian activities were carried out on its side of the border, asserting that India has always taken a very responsible approach towards border management. At the same time, it said, India was deeply committed to protect its sovereignty and security.
“Any suggestion that Indian troops had undertaken activity across the LAC in the Western sector or the Sikkim sector is not accurate. Indian troops are fully familiar with the alignment of the Line of Actual Control in the India-China border areas and abide by it scrupulously,” MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at an online media briefing last week.