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India denies that Trump spoke to Modi about border tensions with China

By Nayanima Basu, ThePrint

New Delhi: India has refuted US President Donald Trump’s claims that he spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the phone to discuss the latest border tensions with China even as New Delhi said it is “directly in touch” with the Chinese on this matter, according to official sources.

The sources said there has been no “recent contact” between Indian Prime Minister Modi and US President Trump. Both leaders had their last conversation on April 4 on the subject of hydroxychloroquine, when America wanted to procure these medicines from New Delhi for its Covid-19 patients.

Reiterating India’s stance on the border row with China, the sources said India is “directly in touch with the Chinese” through established mechanisms and diplomatic contacts.

This comes after Trump claimed on Thursday that there was a “big conflict” going on between India and China and that he spoke to Prime Minister Modi who he found was not in a “good mood” over this issue.

“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,” Trump said while addressing journalists in the Oval Office of the 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,” Trump added as he praised Modi.

“They like me in India. I think they like me in India more than the media likes me in this country. And, I like Modi. I like your prime minister a lot. He is a great gentleman,” he said.

On Wednesday, the US President had tweeted that he was willing to “mediate” or “arbitrate” between New Delhi and Beijing to stop the “raging border dispute” between them.

In an effort to downplay the growing tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), especially in the Ladakh region between the Indian and Chinese troops, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said both sides are now trying to resolve the matter “peacefully” through established mechanisms both at military and diplomatic levels, ruling out any option of a mediation by a third party.

“India is committed to the objective of maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas with China and our armed forces scrupulously follow the consensus reached by our leaders and the guidance provided. At the same time, we remain firm in our resolve to ensure India’s sovereignty and national security,” the Ministry of External Affairs’ Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said.

China has also turned down the mediation offer and had said on Wednesday the situation between both the sides at the border areas is “stable and controllable”, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

India and China have been engaged in a major stand-off across several areas of the LAC in Ladakh and north Sikkim since May 5. The matter escalated when Indian troops tried to prevent the People’s Liberation Army from crossing the LAC and entering the Galwan Valley and the adjoining ‘Finger’ area along the Pangong Tso.

Earlier this month, outgoing Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Alice G. Wells had stated that the India-China border flare-ups are “a reminder that Chinese aggression is not always just rhetorical”.

CAPTION:

Top: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Donald Trump at Hyderabad House, New Delhi, on February 25, 2020. Trump was on a two-day visit to India, his first ever to the country. Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint

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