Updated: May 29, 2020 11:26:40 am
Hours after US President Donald Trump claimed he had spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the India-China border, sources in New Delhi Friday said there had been “no recent contact” between the two leaders and the last conversation took place almost two months ago, on April 4.
Trump had claimed he had spoken to Modi, who was “not in a good mood” about what is going on with China. The US President made those remarks in response to questions at the White House.
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“They have a big conflict going with India and China. Two countries with 1.4 billion people. Two countries with very powerful militaries. And India is not happy, and probably China is not happy. But I can tell you, I did speak to Prime Minister Modi. He’s not — he’s not in a good mood about what’s going on with China,” the US President said.
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Within a few hours of these comments — which were made late into Thursday night — sources in New Delhi rebutted the claim about the conversation.
“There has been no recent contact between PM Modi and President Trump. The last conversation between them was on April 4, 2020 on the subject of hydroxychloroquine,” the source said.
Trump, who was also asked about his offer to mediate between India and China, said, “I would do that. You know, I would do that. If they — if they thought it would help if I were the mediator or the arbiter, I would do that. So, we’ll see.”
Responding to this as well, sources in New Delhi said, “Yesterday, MEA made it clear that we are directly in touch with the Chinese through established mechanisms and diplomatic contacts.”
On Wednesday, Trump had waded into the ongoing tension between India and China on the border incidents, and on Thursday, the Indian government had said it is engaged with Beijing to “peacefully resolve” the issue.
Responding to questions on Trump’s offer, the Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “We are engaged with the Chinese side to peacefully resolve this issue.” He did not refer to Trump’s tweet in his response.
“We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute. Thank you!” Trump had tweeted Wednesday.
The MEA spokesperson refrained from addressing the US President’s tweet, and did not reject any third-party mediation, as it had done in the past.
In the past, the US President has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, but this is the first time he has made such an offer to India and China, referring to the LAC situation as a “raging border dispute”.
On July 22 last year, Trump mentioned for the first time his willingness to “help” and “mediate” between India and Pakistan over Kashmir — an offer that was rejected by the Ministry of External Affairs which reiterated New Delhi’s stated position that the issue can only be discussed bilaterally.
Since then, Trump has repeated the offer on Kashmir, with a “if both sides want” rider, about half-a-dozen times, and has been politely told no each time — once even by Modi on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Biarritz in France last August.
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