India’s confrontation with China is being watched closely across the world and any hesitation on part of India will demoralise and hurt efforts to check Beijing’s expansionist agenda, the US told the Indian side during the 2+2 discussions here on Tuesday.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo is understood to have made the point during the talks with foreign minister S Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh. US secretary of defence Mark Esper was also part of the discussions.

The US side is understood to have expressed strong solidarity with India over the challenge posed by the People’s Liberation Army along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. The faceoff, which began in early May, is set to stretch into the winter and has accelerated a convergence between the US and India on strategic issues.

Pompeo’s sharp remarks on China during his visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives brought about an angry Chinese response accusing the US of meddling in bilateral matters. The Chinese foreign office said there has been good progress in discussions with India on the border tensions and there was no space for a third party.

However, the situation on the LAC is frozen with the next round of military commander level talks likely to be held as India has written to the Chinese side suggesting a date be set. The Chinese side has called for vacation of the Pangong Tso area while India has insisted that de-escalation must take place all along the LAC.

Sources said India was not particularly perturbed that Pompeo’s comments might have come at a time when efforts are on to defuse the border row. It is pointed out that the talks were in any case going nowhere and as long as the US did not speak of mediation, there was no reason to feel discomfited.

Pompeo is seen to be energetically helming the anti-China policy and the rhetoric is not necessarily related to the US election alone. The secretary of state is viewed as someone with a longer career in public life even as he is a Trump ally. The US president has pitched himself as a leader willing to take on China even though in the past, some of his positions have proved to be quite transactional.