NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday said it was engaged with China to resolve the border issue, in a carefully crafted reaction seen as virtual rejection of US President Donald Trump’s offer to arbitrate between India and China in resolving their decades-old boundary dispute.
“We are engaged with the Chinese side to peacefully resolve it,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, replying to a volley of questions at an online media briefing.
The MEA spokesperson did not reply to questions like whether the US had approached India with the offer, whether New Delhi has communicated its response over it to Washington or whether the Trump administration has been briefed about the current standoff between Chinese and Indian soldiers in eastern Ladakh.
In the midst of this tense border standoff, Trump on Wednesday said he was “ready, willing and able to mediate” between the two countries.
“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,” Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday morning.
Trump previously offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, a proposal which was rejected by New Delhi.
Asked about the situation in Eastern Ladakh, Srivastava said India is committed to the objective of maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas with Chinese and Indian armed forces scrupulously follow the consensus reached by leaders of the two countries on the matter.
“At the same time, we remain firm in our resolve to ensuring India’s sovereignty and national security,” he said.
The MEA spokesperson said the Indian troops take a very responsible approach towards border management and strictly follow the procedures laid out in various bilateral agreements and protocols with China to resolve any issue that may arise in the border areas.
“The two sides have established mechanisms both at military and diplomatic levels to resolve situations which may arise in border areas peacefully through dialogue and continue to remain engaged through these channels,” he said.
Trump’s unexpected offer came on a day when China took an apparently conciliatory tone by saying that the situation at the border with India is “overall stable and controllable.”
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday that both China and India have proper mechanisms and communication channels to resolve the issues through dialogue and consultations.
The situation in eastern Ladakh deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on the evening of May 5 which spilled over to the next day before the two sides agreed to “disengage” following a meeting at the level of local commanders.
Over 100 Indian and Chinese soldiers were injured in the violence.
The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9.
It is learnt that both India and China are looking at a solution to the issue through talks.
On May 5, the Indian and the Chinese army personnel clashed with iron rods, sticks, and even resorted to stone-pelting in the Pangong Tso lake area in which soldiers on both sides sustained injuries.
In a separate incident, nearly 150 Indian and Chinese military personnel were engaged in a face-off near Naku La Pass in the Sikkim sector on May 9. At least 10 soldiers from both sides sustained injuries.
The troops of India and China were engaged in a 73-day stand-off in Doklam tri-junction in 2017 which even triggered fears of a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LAC. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it.
Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas. PTI