The United Nations on Thursday said that it was for India and China to decide who should mediate between the two countries, a day after United States President Donald Trump offered to intervene amid escalating tension at the border. It also urged the two nations to avoid any action that would increase tensions.
Chinese troops have clashed with the Indian Army at several points along the Line of Actual Control over the last two weeks. This has led to increasing tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
During an afternoon briefing on Thursday, United Nations Secretary General’s Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric was asked about the escalating tension and how concerned the global body was. He was also asked if Trump would be a good mediator in the situation. “That would be for the parties involved to decide who they would want to mediate this, not for us to opine,” Dujarric said. “We’re obviously looking at the situation, and we would urge all the parties involved to avoid any action that would make the situation even more tense.”
Trump had said on Wednesday that the US had informed both India and China that it is “ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute”.
The ongoing standoff centres around a strategic bridge being built near Daulat Beg Oldi, the last military post south of the Karakoram Pass. The Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi road, once fully metalled, will give India a major advantage in terms of access and military mobilisation. China has reportedly put forward the condition that India stop building infrastructure even on its own side of the LAC. New Delhi, on the other hand, has asked Beijing to maintain status quo at the border. In recent weeks, India and China have reportedly deployed additional troops along North Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, along with Ladakh.
Over the past three weeks, Chinese transgressions of the LAC are said to have occurred at four places: Pangong Tso, Galwan Nalah and Demchok in Ladakh and at Naku La in Sikkim. The scuffles left dozens of soldiers injured and some reports alleged that a few Indian soldiers were “detained” by the Chinese Army, though India has denied these claims. Last week, Indian Army Chief MM Naravane landed in Leh to take stock of the situation in eastern Ladakh.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly met the three service chiefs, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat to discuss the ongoing situation.
On Wednesday, China’s Ambassador Sun Weidong had said that Beijing and New Delhi should not let their differences come in the way of the overall bilateral relation. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had said that his country’s stand on the border dispute was clear and consistent. “We have been following the important consensus reached by the two leaders and strictly observing the agreements between the two countries,” he said. Zhao’s remarks came a day after Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered his nation’s army to boost training and battle preparedness to face “worst-case scenarios”.
Last week, India had strongly contested Beijing’s claims that its soldiers had crossed the LAC and entered Chinese territory. The United States had also sided with India and said that tension along the LAC was a reminder of the fact that Chinese aggression can be real, not merely rhetorical.