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US stood with India as it faced Chinese aggression: White House official

PTI Washington | Updated on December 17, 2020 Published on December 17, 2020

Expressing concern over China’s increasing aggression across the globe from Hong Kong, Taiwan, South China Sea and along the India-China border, a senior White House official said the US has stood with New Delhi during its military standoff with Beijing.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official asserted that US President Donald Trump, during his presidency, has tried to strengthen all aspects of US-India security and defence cooperation to build a comprehensive, enduring and mutually beneficial defence partnership.

“We have stood with India as it faced this aggression along its border over the last six-seven months. We provided equipment. We have been engaged with India, shown our moral support for India to be able to stand up to the Chinese and make sure that there’s a peaceful resolution and de-escalation of the situation,” said the official.

The armies of India and China are locked in a tense border standoff in eastern Ladakh since early May. Both sides have held multiple rounds of military and diplomatic talks. However, no breakthrough has been achieved yet.

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Defence support

During the Trump administration, the US has become the second-largest arms supplier to India, growing from virtually no sales a decade ago to more than $20 billion today, the official said.

Earlier this year, the US and India concluded $3 billion in defence sales for naval and attack helicopters. To bolster India’s role as a net provider of security in the Indo-Pacific, the Trump administration has lifted restrictions on provision of sensitive defence technology, enabling India to become the first country that’s not a treaty ally of the US to be offered armed MQ-9 Reaper drones.

In support of India during its border standoff with China, the US has leased two MQ-9s to India while the sale of MQ-9s is being finalised, said the official.

The US also expedited delivery of cold weather gear to support the deployment of Indian military along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) through the winter, said the senior administration official.

“In addition, we have concluded the basic exchange and cooperation agreement, which is the last of the so-called key defence enabling agreements. I think this is really a historic achievement that clearly demonstrates progress in defence partnership,” said the official.

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Afghan peace process

Responding to a question, the senior administration official said that the US cut security aid and reimbursements to Pakistan in January 2018. “There have been some exceptions, such as for things that are in the US interest.”

“We have received cooperation from Pakistan on the Afghan peace process. We value the cooperation that we have received from Pakistan. We continue to work with Pakistan and look to them to help when it comes to convincing the Taliban to reduce violence, for example.”

His remarks came as a high-level delegation of the Afghan Taliban, led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, met Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad on Wednesday and discussed the Afghan peace process, amid growing incidents of violence in the war-torn country.

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Published on December 17, 2020
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