Doklam stand-off: Diplomatic channel unimpeded, says China

INDIA TO CHINA

NEW DELHI: Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj blamed China on Thursday over the Doklam face-off and said that “the matter can be resolved through talks, but both sides have to first take back their armies”.

India was not being unreasonable, she added. “All countries… understand that the stand taken by India on the issue is not wrong as they realise that the China is getting aggressive with Bhutan. The law is with our country and all are realising this.”

Swaraj’s was the first detailed political statement on the latest boundary confrontation with China and sketched the framework for any talks that National Security Advisor A K Doval might hold with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jieche when he travels to Beijing on July 27-28 for a meeting of the NSAs of BRICScountries.

While the ostensible reason for Doval’s visit is to hold deliberations with his equivalents from other BRICS countries, the NSA will hold possibly the first high-level discussions with Yang on the border stand-off. The visit will be significant because it will indicate whether there are realistic prospects for a resolution before the BRICS summit in September, or whether both countries are in for a long stalemate.

Swaraj’s statement came against rising decibel of bellicose rhetoric from Beijing, threats of all-out war included, and India’s attempt to play down the confrontation. Swaraj did not strike any aggressive note, but was unambiguous in stating that it is the Chinese who started the confrontation seeking to change the status at tri-junction and India can let that pass only at risk to its security.

MEA spokesperson Gopal Bagley suggested that a solution could be found through talks, underplaying China’s insistence that India recalled its troops first. “I’ve seen that statement about the precondition. What I can say is that diplomatic channels are not impeded. It is important to note that aspect,” he said.

 While confirming that diplomats of the two countries are still engaged in talks to resolve the military stand-off, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, “Our diplomatic channel is unimpeded.” At the same time, Lu reiterated the Chinese stand that “the withdrawal of the Indian border personnel is the precondition for any meaningful dialogue and communication between the two countries”.

This may be the first time that the Chinese foreign ministry’s views have come close to the statement by Swaraj. There are other signs that Chinese authorities do not want to exacerbate the dispute in a manner that it is difficult to enter into an agreement any time soon. There have been no questions on the issue from journalists representing the Chinese media during the foreign ministry briefings in the past two days.

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