New Delhi dismisses Trump's claim on talks with PM Modi on India-China border tension

Last Updated 29 May 2020, 05:10 IST

Even as United States President Donald Trump claimed that he had of late spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about an escalation of tension along India-China disputed boundary in eastern Ladakh, sources in New Delhi said that the two leaders had no recent contact.

Trump told journalists in White House in Washington DC that he had spoken to Modi, who was “not in a good mood” about what was going on between India and China.

“They have a big conflict – India and China. Two countries with 1.4 billion people (each). Two countries with very powerful militaries. India is not happy and probably China is not happy,” the PTI quoted the US President telling journalists at the Oval Office in White House. “I can tell you; I did speak to Prime Minister Modi. He is not in a good mood about what is going on with China,” he added.

The US President’s claim about his talks with the Prime Minister came as a surprise to New Delhi.

Sources in New Delhi said that the last conversation between Prime Minister and the US President had taken place on April 4, when they had discussed on export of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) drug from India to America.

New Delhi had imposed a ban on the export of the HCQ but relaxed it after Trump had requested Modi on April 4 to allow the US to procure the drug from India to help treat the COVID-19 patients.

The tension along the disputed boundary between India and China on the northern bank of the Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh started on May 5 when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army personnel attacked Indian Army soldiers with sticks and stones in an area perceived in New Delhi to be well within the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the de facto border between the two neighbours. They also demolished on May 6 some makeshift structures built by Indian Army soldiers.

The Chinese PLA followed up by building a bunker in order to restrict the access to an area where Indian Army soldiers regularly patrolled. The PLA later deployed nearly 5,000 soldiers in a large camp set up recently at Galwan Valley within the territory claimed by China – obviously to support the smaller number of troops, who had transgressed the LAC in several locations and entered into the areas claimed by India. The Indian Army also rushed soldiers in “adequate numbers” as a countermeasure to the deployment by the Chinese PLA.

Trump’s claim about his talks with Modi came just a day after he offered to mediate between India and China to defuse tension along their disputed boundary. India, however, cold-shouldered the offer made by the US President. A spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi said that India and China had “established mechanisms both at military and diplomatic levels” to peacefully resolve through dialogue situations, which might arise in border areas between the two nations. He said that New Delhi and Beijing continued to “remain engaged through these channels”.

(Published 29 May 2020, 04:45 IST)

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