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India-China standoff: US says opt for peaceful resolution

New Delhi: The US government has stressed it supports peaceful resolution of the stand-off between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh where at least 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops have been killed in violent clashes.

A US state department issued a statement, saying, “We are closely monitoring the situation between Indian and Chinese forces along the Line of Actual Control.”

The Trump administration noted the Indian military announcement of the killing of its 20 soldiers and offered “condolences to the families.”

The US government said that both India and China have “expressed a desire to de-escalate” and it supports a “peaceful resolution of the current situation” in the Galwan Valley where the violent clashes took place and India lost a Commanding officer among the 20 killed.

The statement pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump had discussed the situation on the Indo-China border in a phone conversation on June 2, just days ahead of the June 6 meeting between top officers of India and China on disengagement at LAC.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in a phone conversation with his Chinese counterpart on Wednesday asked China to “reassess its actions and take corrective steps” in view of the “unprecedented” violence along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

Jaishankar and China’s state councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a phone conversation, discussed the situation along the LAC in Galwan valley.

The Global Times, mouthpiece of the government in Beijing, however said that the State Councillor of China in his phone call with Jaishankar, asked India to investigate the incident and punish those responsible, and restrain its military forces in the region to prevent any provocative actions.

As per a statement issued by the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi, Jaishankar in his conversation with his counterpart, accused China of taking “pre-meditated and planned action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties.” It reflected an intent to change the facts on ground in violation of all our agreements to not change the status quo, he said.

Underlining that this “unprecedented development will have a serious impact on the bilateral relationship,” he told Wang that the “need of the hour was for the Chinese side to reassess its actions and take corrective steps.”

Jaishankar conveyed the protest of the government, recalling that at the meeting of senior military commanders on June 6, an agreement had been reached on de-escalation and disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“Ground commanders were meeting regularly to implement this consensus throughout the last week. While there was some progress, the Chinese side sought to erect a structure in Galwan valley on our side of the LAC,” the minister said adding that this became a source of dispute.

The two sides should scrupulously and sincerely implement the understanding that was reached by the senior commanders on June 6, Jaishankar told Wang adding that troops of both the countries should also abide by the bilateral agreements and protocols. “They should strictly respect and observe the line of actual control and should not take any unilateral action to alter it,” Jaishankar told his counterpart.

Earlier, the Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing, Zhao Lijian, told reporters that both China and India “agree to resolve this matter through dialogue and consultation and make efforts to ease the situation and safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border area.”

Zhao repeated his government’s claim that the clash was “provoked” by the Indian soldiers and China has lodged its strong protest with the Indian side.

“We once again ask the Indian side to act on our consensus, strictly discipline its front-line troops not to cross the line, not make provocations and not to take unilateral actions that might complicate the situation,” Zhao repeated.

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