New Delhi (Sputnik): An unprecedented faceoff with the Chinese Army in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on 15 June left 20 Indian soldiers dead, including an officer, with several injured or missing. The Indian Army said 18 injured soldiers under treatment in a military hospital were recovering, while 10, taken by Chinese forces had been returned.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in his first reaction to the clashes between Indian and Chinese armies, sent his condolences over the loss of soldiers’ lives during the confrontation.
“We will remember the soldiers’ families, loved ones, and communities as they grieve”, said Pompeo in a tweet.
We extend our deepest condolences to the people of India for the lives lost as a result of the recent confrontation with China. We will remember the soldiers’ families, loved ones, and communities as they grieve.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 19, 2020
A US official earlier reacted to the confrontation between the Indian and Chinese armies. Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell had said that the Trump Administration was closely watching the situation.
“One explanation for creating multiple fronts like this is an assessment in Beijing that the world is distracted and is focused entirely on survival, right, recovering from the corona pandemic, which then possibly is seen as an opportunity to take advantage of distraction”, said Stilwell.
The violent clashes, the worst in several decades between the two Asian nieghbours, occurred even as both sides were in the process of “de-escalation” in the Galwan Valley after more than a month-long standoff at several points along the de facto border known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
India’s external affairs minister in a telephone conversation with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, had told Beijing that the “unprecedented development will have a serious impact on the bilateral relationship”.
Beijing reacted by saying the incident happened because “India’s frontline troops, in violation of the agreement reached at the commander-level meeting, once again crossed the Line of Actual Control for a deliberate provocation when the situation in the Galwan Valley was already easing”.
India and China share a border from Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast to Sikkim in the centre to Ladakh in the northern region. While it is mainly a land border in most regions, in Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh, it passes through a lake.
India controls the western portion of the 45-km lake, while the rest is under Chinese control. Most of the clashes between the Indian and Chinese armies have taken place near the disputed portion of the lake.