The United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on Tuesday said that the US will stand with India in its efforts to defend its sovereignty and its liberty.
Pompeo made the statement while referring to the mid-June clash between Indian and Chinese forces at Galwan Valley along the Indo-China border, which led to the martyrdom of 20 Indian soldiers.
Pompeo—along with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper—visited the National War Memorial in New Delhi to pay tribute.
Pompeo said, "We visited National War Memorial to honor brave men and women of Indian armed forces who sacrificed for the world's largest democracy, including 20 killed by PLA in Galwan Valley. The US will stand with India as they confront threats to their sovereignty, liberty."
"Today is a great opportunity for two great democracies to grow closer," said Pompeo, "China is no friend to democracy." He noted that India and the US have strengthened their defense and security partnership, especially over the past year.
India and China have been engaged in a border row since a standoff near Pangong Tso in early-May.
Ever since, multiple escalations have been reported from different points along the LAC, prompting authorities to attempt resolution through diplomatic and military talks.
20 Indian soldiers had been martyred in the June 15 Galwan Valley clash, which also led to a disputed number of Chinese fatalities.
Pompeo's statement comes amid the third edition of 2+2 India-US talks.
Pompeo and Esper held talks over various issues with Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
Pompeo said the talks ranged from "our cooperation on the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, to confronting the Chinese Communist Party's threats to security and freedom, to promoting peace and stability throughout the region."
The two US officials had reached India on Monday. They also held talks with India's National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, on Tuesday to discuss challenges of strategic importance.
Further, the US and India also signed a military agreement—Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for Geo-Spatial cooperation. This would allow India access to advanced American satellite and map data for better accuracy of missiles/drones.
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