The United States is monitoring the India-China standoff in Ladakh, and sharing information with New Delhi, and wants to ensure the situation does not escalate, senior officials of the Trump administration said on Saturday.
This comes just a week before the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. The foreign and defence ministers are expected to discuss regional security cooperation, defence information sharing and defence trade.
The US said it has been working with like-minded partners to counter ‘China's aggressive behaviour’ across the Indo-Pacific and the South China sea.
“We have had an ongoing dialogue with the Indians about the increased cooperation in Southeast Asia, not just the South China Sea. And we encourage their involvement and that cuts across development investments, that cuts across security cooperation and that also involves presence and so, we welcome greater Indian participation across Southeast Asia in all three of those areas," US officials said in an online news briefing, reported NDTV.
Commenting on the clash at Galwan valley that left 20 Indian soldiers dead, the US said, "We as a government are covering the situation in the Himalayas closely and understandably. And we certainly want to ensure that the situation does not escalate."
The United States also said that they are providing support, ‘whether defence sales, exercises, information sharing’ to India.
''The defence relationship with India is at its best in recent memory. The progress that we have made since India became a major defence partner in 2016 is remarkable," they added.
“Secretary of State M Pompeo and Secretary of Defense MT Esper and their Indian counterparts will lead third annual US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in Delhi to advance US-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership and expand cooperation to promote prosperity in Indo-Pacific,” the statement read.
The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), a breakthrough pact for sharing important strategic information, is likely to be signed during the 2+2 ministerial dialogue, IANS reported, quoting an official.
"This agreement will allow for expanded geospatial information sharing between our armed forces. We are also seeking to expand secure communication capabilities between our respective militaries as well as between our foreign defence ministries and that figures prominently in what we are trying to accomplish in the information-sharing space," the official further said, according to IANS.
India along with the US, Japan and Australia will also be holding the high-level Malabar naval exercises next month.
The Quad meeting is a united front by the four countries against what they perceive is rising Chinese belligerence — and the value of a coordinated response. This is crucial for India, given the border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh for the past few months.
(With inputs from IANS, ANI and NDTV.)