Washington- The US is “closely monitoring” the situation following a fierce clash between Indian and Chinese forces in eastern Ladakh, and hopes that the differences will be resolved peacefully, a senior State Department official has said.
Twenty Indian Army personnel, including a Colonel, were killed in the clash with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley on Monday night, the biggest military confrontation in over five decades that has significantly escalated the already volatile border standoff between the two countries.
“We are closely monitoring the situation between Indian and Chinese forces along the Line of Actual Control,” the State Department spokesperson said on Monday.
“We note the Indian military has announced that 20 soldiers have died, and we offer our condolences to their families,” the official said.
Both India and China have expressed their desires to de-escalate and the US supports a peaceful resolution of the current situation, the spokesperson said.
“During their phone call on June 2, 2020, President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had discussed the situation along the India-China border,” the official added.
The Indian Army initially said on Tuesday that an officer and two soldiers were killed. But in a late evening statement, it revised the figure to 20 saying 17 others who “were critically injured in the line of duty and exposed to sub-zero temperatures at the standoff location succumbed to their injuries.”
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry officials were silent on the casualties suffered by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops, but Hu Xijin, the editor of the ruling Communist Party-run Global Times tabloid, tweeted to say that there are casualties on Chinese side too.
A large number of Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation in Galwan Valley and certain other areas of eastern Ladakh for the last five weeks, including in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh.
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 tranquillity in the border areas.
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