NEW DELHI • India will not let its “pride be hurt” in its latest border flare-up with China, but is determined to settle the dispute through talks, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said last Saturday.
Mr Singh added in a television interview that India has turned down an offer to mediate from United States President Donald Trump.
Hundreds of Indian and Chinese troops are involved in the latest face-off concentrated in India’s Ladakh region, just opposite Tibet.
The two countries have several disputes along their 3,500km border. They fought a frontier war in 1962 and there have been regular spats since. The latest tensions blew up on May 9, when dozens of Chinese and Indian soldiers were hurt in fistfights and stone-throwing in Sikkim state. The main showdown is now in Ladakh, centred around the Galwan Valley which controls access to several strategic points on the Himalayan border.
The two sides have blamed each other, but analysts say India’s building of new roads in the region may have sparked the dispute. Both sides have sent reinforcements and heavy equipment to the zone.
“I want to assure the country that we will not let India’s pride be hurt in any circumstances,” Mr Singh told Aaj Tak television channel.
He referred to a similar 2017 showdown on the Doklam plateau, which he said was “very tense” but “we did not step back”.
“India has been following a clear policy of maintaining a good relationship with neighbouring countries. It is not a new approach.
“At times, situations arise with China. It has happened before,” Mr Singh said. “Negotiations are ongoing between the two countries at the military and diplomatic levels.”
Mr Trump had tweeted an offer to mediate, in what he called a “raging” dispute.
Mr Singh said he spoke to US Defence Secretary Mark Esper last Friday to emphasise that India and China have mechanisms to resolve “problems” through talks.