Want to ensure India-China standoff doesn't escalate: US

US officials rule out Quad summit in the immediate short term

india-china-flag-reuters US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper are scheduled to visit India next week | File

The United States is watching the India-China standoff in Ladakh closely and does not want an escalation, senior officials of the Donald Trump administration said on Saturday. "We as a government are covering the situation in the Himalayas closely and understandably. And we certainly want to ensure that the situation does not escalate... Given China’s increasingly aggressive behaviour across the Indo-Pacific from the Himalayas to the South China Sea, it’s more important than ever that we work with like-minded partners such as India," US officials said in an online news briefing. 

"We have had an ongoing dialogue with the Indians about the increased cooperation in Southeast Asia, not just the South China Sea. And we encourage their involvement and that cuts across development investments, that cuts across security cooperation and that also involves presence and so, we welcome greater Indian participation across Southeast Asia in all three of those areas," they added.

At the same time, there are no plans for a Quad summit in the immediate short term, one of the officials said, adding, "anything could happen in the future".

The statements assume significance as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper are scheduled to visit India next week. ''We are providing support, whether through defence sales, exercises... as well as information sharing. These are all areas where we cooperate with the Indians, not just with the tension in the Himalayas," the US officials said.

'The defence relationship with India is at its best in recent memory. The progress that we have made since India became a major defence partner in 2016 is remarkable, they added.

On the agenda for the 2+2 foreign and defence minister-level talks next week, the US said the subjects to be covered included regional security cooperation, defence information sharing, military-to-military interactions and defence trade.

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