The last conversation between them (Modi and Trump) was on 4 April, 2020, on the subject of hydroxychloroquine,” said a person familiar with the matter. (AP)

Mint Business News - Official Channel

PM Modi and Donald Trump had no discussion on standoff at LAC with China


NEW DELHI : India on Friday said there was no contact between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump on tensions between India and its northern neighbor China even as the president repeated an offer to mediate or arbitrate between the two over a raging border dispute.

It came on a day China too rejected Trump's offer to mediate, saying the two countries did not need the intervention of a "third party" to settle their differences. This came as the stalemate on the ground continued with both Indian and Chinese troops holding their positions onto their positions in Ladakh.

“The last conversation between them (Modi and Trump) was on 4 April, 2020, on the subject of hydroxychloroquine," said a person familiar with the matter referring to a telephonic talk last month when the US had requested that India lift a ban on the export of an anti-malarial drug seen as useful in the treatment of covid-19.

“Yesterday (on Thursday), the Ministry of External Affairs) had also made it clear that we are directly in touch with the Chinese through established mechanisms and diplomatic contacts," the person cited above said, making it clear that on the matter of mediation, India and China were on the same page – neither wanted Trump’s mediation or arbitration.

The clarification from the Indian side came hours after Trump, while once again offering to mediate between India and China, said he had spoken to the prime minister on the "big conflict" and that Modi was not a in a "good mood" over it.

Talking to reporters at the White House on Thursday, Trump said, "I like your prime minister a lot. He is a great gentleman."

"Have a big conflict …India and China. Two countries with 1.4 billion people (each). Two countries with very powerful militaries. India is not happy and probably China is not happy," Trump said when asked if he was worried about the border situation between India and China.

“I can tell you, I did speak to Prime Minister Modi. He is not in a good mood about what is going on with China," he said.

Responding to a question on his Twitter post on Wednesday in which he had first offered to mediate, Trump renewed his offer, saying if called for help, "I would do that (mediate). If they thought it would help mediate or arbitrate, I would do that," he said.

This came despite India on Thursday saying it was engaged with China to peacefully resolve the border row, in a carefully worded response to Trump’s offer to arbitrate between the two Asian countries to settle their decades-old border dispute.

Tensions have been simmering following military build-up by Indian and Chinese armies in Sikkim and Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control after physical engagement earlier this month.

Meanwhile in Beijing, reacting for the first time to the US president's offer, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the two countries did not want the "intervention" from a third party.

“Between China and India we have existing border-related mechanisms and communication channels", Zhao told reporters, a PTI report said.

This is not the first time that India has had to issue clarifications on Trump’s statements. In July last year, Trump caused a furore in India when he said that Modi had sought US mediation or arbitration on Kashmir. Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar had to issue a clarification that Modi had not made any request to Trump to mediate. He renewed the offer several times before modi in a meeting with Trump in New York in September, politely but firmly refused.

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