US Maintained ‘Close Contact’ With India On Chinese Aggression: Envoy

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US Ambassador to India Ken Juster – File Pic

Washington: The Trump administration has maintained close contact and “tremendous cooperation” with India on the latest Chinese border aggression, America’s top envoy in New Delhi has said, asserting that the last six months have been unprecedented in terms of the bilateral relationship.

The troops of India and China were locked in a standoff in several areas along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh since May 5. The situation deteriorated last month after the Galwan Valley clashes that killed 20 Indian Army personnel in the line of duty.

“For now, (we are) watching the issues on the Northern border of India in which China has raised disputes throughout the Western sector, but also in the central and East. Throughout all of this, we’ve had very close contact with our Indian counterparts and quite frankly, tremendous cooperation,” US Ambassador to India Ken Juster said on Wednesday in his address to the virtual India Ideas’ Summit organised by US India Business Council.

The ambassador’s remarks came two days after US Defence Secretary Mark Esper described the Chinese military’s aggressive activities in the region as “destabilising”.

Esper also said the US was “very closely” monitoring the situation between India and China along the Line of Actual Control.

“We have seen post the (India) visit of the President several further conversations between the President and the Prime Minister. The Secretary (of State) has spoken on numerous occasions with (External Affairs) minister, Jaishankar. I think it’s really solidified their relationship,” Mr Juster said.

Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun has spoken not just with Foreign Secretary Harshvardhan Shringla, but with a range of counterparts in the Indo-Pacific region, he said.

Mr Juster said there have been a host of ministerial-level interactions between the two countries including the one between Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The two countries also had a strategic energy partnership meeting. It is showing the breadth and the depth of the issues that the two countries work on together, he said.

“I think because of the intensity of the last six months, we’ve really had a new level of comfort in dealing with each other, a degree of trust and respect to get things done,” Mr Juster said.

“I remember, issues we had and repatriation flights, where we had to get cooperation, not just from the home ministry and the ministry of external affairs, but at the local levels with state officials and with police officers. It shows the importance of these individual relationships,” he said.

Through all of this and the intensity of the last six months and the range of emotions from an incredibly successful presidential visit to dealing with lockdown and all the urgent issues that came out of that, “we”ve really transformed a strategic partnership into a comprehensive global strategic partnership,” Mr Juster said.

“As the prime minister has said recently, what may be the most important partnership of the 21st century. So that”s really what I think the last six months have done to solidify this relationship,” the top American diplomat said.

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