Trump defends India-China mediation offer as effort to address PM Modi’s ‘mood’
Trump had offered to mediate on the border issue between New Delhi and Beijing in a tweet on Wednesday morning. “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,” Trump wrote.by Yashwant Raj | Edited by: Anubha Rohatgi
US President Donald Trump has defended his offer to mediate the India-China border dispute saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been unhappy about the situation.
“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,” Trump told reporters in response to a question on Thursday.
“I would do that,” he said in response to another question about his offer to mediate. “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.”
As expected, India has politely and indirectly turned down Trump’s offer to mediate with the external affairs ministry (MEA) spokesperson telling reporters in New Delhi, in response to a direct and specific question about it, that India was in talks with China to resolve the dispute.
Trump had offered to mediate on the border issue between New Delhi and Beijing in a tweet on Wednesday morning. “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,” Trump wrote.
There are no public readouts of a conversation between President Trump and Prime Minister Modi after April 4, when they discussed Trump’s specific request to Modi to lift the ban on the export of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug Trump has promoted as a “game-changer” cure for Covid-19, and which he has himself used as a preventative after possible exposure to the coronavirus after two White House staffers tested positive.
This is the second time Trump has referred to a conversation with Modi details of which are not backed by public records or readouts.
Trump had in 2019 said while offering to mediate India’s dispute with Pakistan to a direct request from Prime Minister Imran Khan that he had been asked by Modi earlier as well. India had denied that assertion and swiftly rejected his offer.
New Delhi took longer to reject Trump’s mediation offer on China in contrast. There was a view in certain quarters in the Indian foreign policy establishment that the offer of help, though dead on arrival, would irk China, which has responded with prickly no-thank-you. “We are capable of properly resolving the issues between us through dialogue and consultation. We do not need the intervention of a third party,” a spokesperson told reporters in Beijing. “Between China and India we have existing border-related mechanisms and communication channels.”
At the White House event, Trump described the India-China border dispute as a “big conflict” and said, “Two countries with 1.4 billion people. Two countries with very powerful militaries. And India is not happy, and probably China is not happy.”
He also referred to his India trip in February, saying, “I got back -- I know. And they like me in India. I think they like me in India certainly more than the media likes me in this country.”
The United States has been closely watching the latest flareup on the India-China border, and backed India in its first official response. The flareups were a “reminder that Chinese aggression is not always just rhetorical”, Alice Wells, the top US diplomat for South and Central Asia told reporters last week.
“Whether it’s in the South China Sea or whether it’s along the border with India, we continue to see provocations and disturbing behavior by China that raises questions about how China seeks to use its growing power,” she had added.
Trump administration officials have refused to comment further on the president mediation offer tweeted Wednesday. And there have been no explanations forthcoming for it, except that it could be a part of the growing antipathy for China in the United State that the president and his allies are hoping to tap into with an eye on the November general elections.