United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said that his country will stand with India in its efforts to guard its sovereignty and liberty, ANI reported. Pompeo made the remark at a press briefing after the key “2+2” ministerial dialogue, in reference to the Galwan Valley clash between India and China in June.
US Defence Secretary Mark T Esper, India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh were also present at the press briefing.
“This morning, we went to the National War Memorial and honoured the brave men and women of the Indian armed forces who sacrificed for the world’s largest democracy, including 20 killed by PLA [China’s People’s Liberation Army] in Galwan Valley,” Pompeo said. “The US will stand with India as they confront threats to their sovereignty and liberty.”
Twenty Indian soldiers and an unconfirmed number of Chinese soldiers were killed in violent clashes in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh on June 15. Military heads of both India and China have engaged in several rounds of talks over the last three months. On September 22, the countries issued a joint statement about the sixth round of Corps Commander-level talks and said they resolved to stop sending more troops to the frontline. The statement added that both sides will refrain from unilaterally changing situation on the Line of Actual Control.
On Tuesday, Pompeo added that India and US were teaming up to counter all security threats. “Our leaders and citizens see with increasing clarity that [the] Chinese Communist Party is no friend to democracy, rule of law and transparency,” he said. “I’m glad to say India and the US are taking all steps to strengthen cooperation against all manner of threats and not just those posed by CCP.”
Pompeo also said that the US will support India’s bid for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council. “US values India as a multilateral partner, whether it’s through the Quad, making Afghan peace negotiation successful or working together during India’s upcoming term on UN security council,” he added.
Esper also underlined the importance of India-US partnership amid the coronavirus crisis. “As the world confronts a pandemic and growing security challenges, the India-US partnership is more important than ever to ensure security, stability and prosperity of the region and the world,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Jaishankar said that the two countries are committed to addressing global concerns such as maritime security and counter-terrorism, and the discussions also focussed on the Indo-Pacific region. The minister said that India reiterated the importance of peace, stability and prosperity for the countries in this region.
“As Raksha Mantri [Rajnath Singh] stated, this is possible only by upholding the rules based international order, ensuring the freedom of navigation in the international seas, promoting open connectivity and respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states,” Jaishankar said.
The discussions also included developments in neighbouring countries, he said, adding that cross-border terrorism would be unacceptable. “On Afghanistan, India’s stakes in its security and stability are evident, as is our willingness to contribute to international efforts to that end,” the foreign minster added.
Singh said India and the US discussed major challenges such as economic recovery, controlling the pandemic and the global supply chains. He added that the two countries affirmed their commitment to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
Earlier in the day, India and US signed a military agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation, or BECA, which will give New Delhi access to advanced American satellite and map data for better accuracy of its missiles and drones.
BECA is the last of the foundational agreements to be signed by India and the US. The two sides have been sharing real-time intelligence under the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, or COMCASA, which was signed in 2018. They also signed the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002, and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016.