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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said India will not spare anyone if it is harmed, in what is seen as a strong warning to neighbour China.

"India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emerged as a powerful country and is headed to be among the top three economies of the world," Rajnath Singh said while addressing an Indian-American community in San Francisco.

Rajnath Singh and S Jaishankar were here in the US to attend the fourth India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue.

India and China have been involved in a border dispute with occasional tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). A fierce brawl in June 2020 exploded into hand-to-hand combat with clubs, stones and fists that left 20 Indian soldiers dead. China said it lost four soldiers in the clash.

The two sides so far held 15 rounds of talks to resolve the standoffs at various points in eastern Ladakh.

Since February last year, both India and China have withdrawn troops from some sites on the northern and southern banks of the Pangong Tso Lake, Gogra and Galwan Valley, but they continue to maintain extra personnel as part of their deployment.

“I cannot say openly what they (Indian soldiers) did and what decisions we (the government) took. But I can definitely say that a message has gone (to China) that India will not spare anyone, if India is harmed. (Bharat ko agar koi chherega to Bharat chhorega nahi," he said.

Without making any direct reference to the American pressure with respect to Russia because of the Ukraine war, Singh said India does not believe in a “zero-sum game" diplomacy.

If India has a good relationship with one country, it does not mean that its relationship with any other country will deteriorate, he said. “India has never adopted this kind of diplomacy. India will never opt for this (kind of diplomacy). We don’t believe in the zero-sum game in international relationships," he said.

India, he said, believes in having a bilateral relationship which is based on “win-win" for both the countries.

His remarks came amidst some disquiet in Washington over India's position on the Ukraine crisis as well as its decision to procure discounted Russian oil.

“The image of India has changed. The prestige of India has improved. In the next few years, no power in the world can stop India from becoming the world’s top three economies," Singh said.

In his address to the Indian community, Singh said that in the past, if any country in the world wanted to develop and prosper, they always thought about establishing a vibrant trade with India.

“We should aim at establishing a similar ecosystem in India by the time we celebrate our 100th independence Day in 2047," he said.

The defence minister said that during his last trip to the US in 2013, at a reception in New Jersey he had told a group of Indian Americans that "the success story of India is not over, it is waiting for the BJP to come into power. At that time, people were disappointed with the performance of the then Congress government."

Describing his five-day trip to the US as fruitful, Singh said he had a wonderful meeting with his American counterpart Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.

On Monday, Singh held bilateral talks with Austin and reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral defence cooperation and the regional security situation, including in the Indo-Pacific and the broader Indian Ocean Region.

“I congratulate you for maintaining this complete Indian identity," Singh told a group of Indian-Americans during a public reception hosted in his honor by the Indian Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday.

“This is not a small thing. People lose their (cultural identity) when they stay at some place for a long time," he said.

Indians living outside India always feel pride in calling themselves Indians.

Singh said he was making his fourth trip in his political career to the United States and the first in San Francisco.

The Indian community in the United States has established itself here. This is a result of the efforts of the community, he added.

“Had I come here as a political leader, not on my official tour, I would have met the Indian community in all the places I visited here," he said.

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