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China and India reject President Trump's mediation in Ladakh face-off

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China and India have rejected President Donald Trump's offer to mediate between China and India to end their border standoff in Ladakh.

Trump on Wednesday offered to "mediate or arbitrate" the raging border dispute between India and China, saying he was "ready, willing and able" to ease the tensions, amid the continuing standoff between the armies of the two Asian giants.

China said Friday (May 29) the two countries are capable of properly resolving their differences through dialogue and did not require the help of a "third party".

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, the two countries did not want the "intervention" from a third party to resolve the current military standoff.

Between China and India we have existing border-related mechanisms and communication channels, Zhao told a media briefing here when asked about Trump's offer. We are capable of properly resolving the issues between us through dialogue and consultation. We do not need the intervention of the third party, he said.

Trump's offer also came up on Thursday in New Delhi during a virtual press conference held by Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava. He maintained that India and China "have established mechanisms both at military and diplomatic levels to resolve situations which may arise in border areas peacefully through dialogue and continue to remain engaged through these channels".

However, Defense Secretary Mark Esper held a telephone conversation with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh, The Newsweek reported.

The Pentagon released a readout Friday of a telephone conversation between Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh, who together "discussed a range of regional security issues and the Secretary expressed his firm commitment to India's leadership across the Indo-Pacific", among other topics.

The Indian Defense Ministry said Esper and Singh "reviewed progress on various bilateral defense cooperation arrangements and expressed their commitment to further promote our defense partnership".

China expands airbase near Ladakh

Satellite images show massive construction activity at a high-altitude Chinese air base, located just 200 kilometres away from the Pangong Lake, the site of the skirmish between forces of India and China on May 5 and May 6, according to NDTV network of India.

Two images, exclusively sourced from the open-source intelligence expert with ShadowBreak Intl., show the Ngari Gunsa airport in Tibet. The first image is dated April 6, 2020, while the second one, dated May 21, 2020, shows massive construction activity including the addition of what appears to be a second taxi-track or a secondary tarmac to position helicopters or combat aircraft. A third image shows a close-up of the main tarmac at the airport with a line-up of four fighter jets believed to be either J-11 or J-16 fighters of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force.

The J-11/J-16 are advanced, domestically produced variants of the Russian Sukhoi 27 and broadly match the capabilities of the Indian Air Forces Sukhoi 30 MKIs, its most potent fighter until the arrival of the first batch of Dassault Rafales in a few weeks.

The location of the Ngari Gunsa air base is particularly significant. A dual-use military and civil airport is located at 14,022 feet, which makes it among the highest in the world.

Reports indicate that several thousand Chinese soldiers have either crossed or are very close to the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. The skirmishes, which began on May 5 this year, have seen vicious hand-to-hand fighting between Indian and Chinese forces on the North bank of the Pangong Lake. The biggest area of concern is thought to be the Galwan River basin further north where Chinese forces are reported to have positioned themselves to threaten a road completed last year that leads up to Daulat Beg Oldie, a crucial Indian Air Force base in Ladakh, which supplies Indian soldiers in the region.

Multiple meetings have been held between local commanders from the rank of colonel to major general in Ladakh but there has been no breakthrough at the moment.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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