US President Donald Trump on Wednesday waded into the tense border standoff between India and China, saying he was "ready, willing and able to mediate" between the two sides.
Trump, who has in the past repeatedly offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir and been rebuffed, made the latest offer through a tweet. He also said he had informed India and China of his offer.
"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!" he tweeted.
There was no immediate response from Indian officials. It also could not be confirmed whether Trump had formally conveyed the offer to the Indian side.
Thousands of Indian and Chinese troops are locked in eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), particularly in Ladakh sector following violent clashes early this month that left soldiers on both sides injured.
The Indian government made it clear yesterday that it would not allow any change in the status quo on the LAC and that it would respond to China's actions with "strength and restraint".
Trump's remarks came a week after his administration's outgoing pointperson for South Asia, Alice Wells, strongly backed the Indian position in the border row and said such disputes are a "reminder of the threat posed by China".
Wells, the outgoing head of the state department's South and Central Asia bureau, said like-minded nations such as the US, India, Australia and Asean states have rallied together in the face of China's "provocations and disturbing behaviour".
She had said: "The flare-ups on the border, I think, are a reminder that Chinese aggression is not always just rhetorical. And so whether it's in the South China Sea or whether it's along the border with India, we continue to see provocations and disturbing behaviour by China that raises questions about how China seeks to use its growing power."
She added, "What we want to see is an international system that provides benefit to everyone and not a system in which there is suzerainty to China. And so I think in this instance, the border disputes are a reminder of the threat posed by China."
China's foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had dismissed Wells' remarks as "just nonsense" and reiterated the allegation that Indian troops had trespassed across the LAC. India should work with China and "refrain from unilateral actions" that complicate the situation, he had said.
India has dismissed allegations that its troops trespassed across the LAC and instead accused Chinese troops of hindering activities on the Indian side of the LAC.