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US closely monitoring India-China border tension, fencing Pak-Afghan border

WASHINGTON: In its first reaction on India and China border tension, the United States has categorically statement that it is closely monitoring border disputes between India and China and backs their peaceful resolution through direct dialogue, the State Department said on Tuesday, while stressing that it stands with allies and partners like India.

“We note the ongoing talks between the governments of India and China,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told a news briefing.

“We continue to support direct dialogue and a peaceful resolution of those border disputes,” he said and added: “We are concerned by Beijing’s pattern of ongoing attempts to intimidate its neighbours. As always, we’ll stand with friends, we’ll stand with partners, we’ll stand with allies.”

India and China have been locked in a military standoff over their disputed mountainous border and Indian public opinion has hardened against Beijing after soldiers were killed in a clash there.

Price spoke after a call earlier in the day between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

The State Department said the call’s purpose was “to reaffirm the strength of the US-India partnership” and issues of mutual concern, including Myanmar.

Myanmar’s military overthrew the newly elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1 and detained her and other politicians from her National League for Democracy (NLD).

The two also discussed cooperation across the Indo-Pacific, the statement said, adding that they looked forward to expanded regional cooperation, including through the Quad, an informal grouping of the US, India, Japan and Australia seen as a way to push back against China’s growing assertiveness.

New US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed in a telephone call on Monday to strengthen Indo-Pacific security through the Quad.

Pak-Afghan border

In another border development, Pakistan has completed 182km of the 213km-long fence at the Afghan border and work on the remaining 31km fence is expected to complete till April, a senior official told the meeting of civil and military officials here on Tuesday.

The meeting, which was presided over by Balochistan Home Minister Ziaullah Langove, discussed the ongoing border-fencing project, land settlement due to border fencing between the two countries and the overall law and order situation.

With the completion of the border fencing work, which was expected by April, the legal crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan would increase manifold, the senior official said, expressing the hope that it would also have a positive impact on the economy of the neighbouring countries and create jobs opportunities for the residents of the border areas.

A file picture shows Indian army trucks move along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangeer in Kashmir’s Ganderbal district.

The meeting was also briefed about steps being taken in the wake of bilateral negotiations with the Afghan government and desires of the tribal elders regarding land settlement issues. The participants were told that the federal government was erecting fence at the Pak-Afghan border to curb terrorism and maintain law and order in the border and other areas of Balochistan.

Also, the officials reviewed the implementation of the decisions taken in the previous two meetings and suggested further steps for progress on the issues related to the border fencing.

The home minister directed the district administration and the Board of Revenue to submit their reports as soon as possible for resolving the land settlement issues amicably.

He said the border fencing helped Pakistan foil many terrorist plots.

Senator Manzoor Kakar, retired Capt Abdul Khaliq Achakzai, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Hafiz Abdul Majid, Quetta Commissioner Asfandyar Kakar, Quetta DIG M. Akram Azhar, Chaman Scouts Commandant Colonel M. Rashid and Qila Abdullah Deputy Commissioner Tariq Javed Mengal attended the meeting.

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