Washington: The US has dismissed Chinese resentment over India and America expressing concern on the South China Sea dispute during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Washington, and described New Delhi as an important partner.
"I think our position hasn't changed on this issue. You are familiar with it, but we certainly work with countries in the region to address maritime issues," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
"And certainly, India is an important partner, and it's only natural that this was a topic of discussion but also a topic of output from our meetings when the prime minister was here just a few weeks ago," she told reporters yesterday.
A joint statement issued after Modi's meeting with US President Barack Obama on September 30 for the first time made a direct reference to the South China Sea (SCS) dispute.
The statement said: "The leaders expressed concern about rising tensions over maritime territorial disputes, and affirmed the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea."
In the statement, both leaders called for "all parties to avoid the use, or threat of use, of force in advancing their claims" and help find a peaceful resolution in the area.
China this week reacted sharply to the joint statement, asserting that the maritime row should be resolved directly by parties concerned and no third party should meddle in it.
"Our position is that the dispute in the South China Sea should be resolved by countries directly concerned through negotiations and consultations. Any third party should not be involved in this," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei has said.
China claims over 90 per cent of the resource-rich South China Sea as its own.
Most recently, Vietnam and the Philippines have been most vocal about pushing back on China's claims, through verbal and naval confrontations.
Rival countries have wrangled over territorial claims in the contested South China Sea -- but a recent surge in tension has sparked concern that the area is becoming a flashpoint with global consequences.