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Pompeo says US and India must focus on threat posed by China

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NEW DELHI: The United States and India must work together to confront the threat posed by China to security and freedom, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday as he prepared for talks with Indian leaders.

Mr Pompeo arrived in New Delhi on Monday along with Defence Secretary Mark Esper for an annual strategic dialogue at a time of heightened tension in the region, with Indian troops confronting Chinese forces on the disputed Himalayan border.

"Today is a new opportunity for two great democracies like ours to grow closer," Mr Pompeo said before talks with Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

"There is much more work to do for sure. We have a lot to discuss today: 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."

China dismissed Mr Pompeo's accusations.

"We urge Pompeo to abandon his Cold War mentality, zero-sum mindset, and stop harping on the 'China threat'," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in Beijing.

Meanwhile, the US on Monday said it had approved a US$2.4 billion (S$3.3 billion) sale of Harpoon coastal defence systems to Taiwan.

The announcement came just hours after Beijing said it would sanction US firms involved in an earlier arms sales to Taiwan.

The proposed sale of the Harpoon systems "will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance... and progress in the region", the State Department said in a statement.

The deal involves 100 Harpoon coastal defence systems, which includes 400 RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II surface-launched missiles with a range of around 125km.

The missiles can be positioned on fixed platforms or on trucks.

The office of Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen released a statement thanking the US, saying it would "upgrade asymmetric warfare capabilities".

China's foreign ministry said it will take necessary measures to uphold its sovereignty and security interests.

China urges the US to stop the arms sales to prevent further damage to China-US relations, Mr Wang said yesterday. - REUTERS, AFP