24 Oct 2020: Don't want India-China military standoff in Ladakh to escalate: US
Ahead of the crucial India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, senior officials of the Trump administration said the United States is closely watching the India-China military standoff in Ladakh, adding they do not want the situation to escalate.
The Ladakh crisis will be on the agenda of the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue between the foreign and defense ministers of both the countries on October 27.
About: Third edition of 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in New Delhi
Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh will meet with their American counterparts, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, next week in New Delhi.
The upcoming meeting will mark the third India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue where various bilateral issues of mutual interest, apart from the Ladakh standoff, are expected to be discussed.
China's aggresive behavior: Important to work with like-minded partners like India: US
In an online news briefing, senior US officials appreciated India's increased involvement in Southeast Asia, including its military presence in the South China Sea. They welcomed India's efforts with like-minded partners to oppose China's "aggressive behavior".
"Given China's increasingly aggressive behavior across the Indo-Pacific, from the Himalayas to the South China Sea, it's more important...we work with like-minded partners such as India," they said.
On standoff: Certainly want to ensure Ladakh situation does not escalate: US
On the Ladakh standoff, the US officials said, "We as a government are covering the situation in the Himalayas closely and understandably. We certainly want to ensure...the situation does not escalate."
''We are providing support, whether through defense sales, exercises...as well as information sharing. These are all areas where we cooperate with the Indians, not just with the tension in the Himalayas," they added.
Malabar exercise: India set to hold high-level Malabar exercise next month
Meanwhile, the senior officials of the Trump administration also welcomed the recent announcement by India that Australia would also participate in the annual Malabar naval exercises this year.
"We were pleased to see India's recent announcement regarding Australia joining the Malabar Naval exercise," they said.
India is set to hold the high-level naval exercises next month along with the US, Japan, and Australia.
Defense relations: US officials on defense ties with India, 2+2 talks agenda
Speaking about the US-India defense ties, the US officials said, "The defense relationship with India is at its best in recent memory. The progress that we have made since India became a major defense partner in 2016 is remarkable."
On the agenda for the 2+2 talks, they said issues like regional security cooperation, defense information sharing, military-to-military interactions, and defense trade would be covered.
On BECA: India, US made significant progress toward concluding BECA
The officials said the US and India made significant progress toward "concluding the last foundational defense enabling agreement, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA)".
"This agreement will allow for expanded geospatial information sharing between our armed forces. We are also seeking to expand secure communication capabilities between our respective militaries as well as between our foreign defense ministries," they added.