Cautious response from India when Bhutan and China sign memorandum of understanding on border negotiations | Latest news India

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Bhutan and China on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a “three-step roadmap” to speed up negotiations on their border dispute, prompting a cautious response from India in the context of the confrontation on the Line of Control. Real (LAC).

Bhutan Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji and Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao signed the memorandum of understanding during a virtual ceremony. China’s Ambassador to India Sun Weidong and Bhutan’s Envoy to India Major General Vetsop Namgyel also joined the online event.

“We have taken note of the signing of the MoU between Bhutan and China today [Thursday]”Said Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi during a regular press conference when asked about the development.

“You know that Bhutan and China have been conducting boundary negotiations since 1984. India has been holding similar boundary negotiations with China,” he said, without offering an answer to a question on whether Bhutan had kept India abreast of the Porcelain deal. .

The agreement was signed four years after Indian and Chinese troops engaged in a 73-day confrontation within Bhutan’s territory in Doklam. That standoff began in June 2017 after India sent its troops to prevent the construction of roads and infrastructure by Chinese troops in violation of the Bhutan-China accords.

Given the extremely close coordination between India and Bhutan on foreign policy issues, New Delhi is unlikely to have been caught off guard by Thursday’s development. Experts said India’s cautious response was understandable given the implications the MOU could have for New Delhi’s already strained relations with Beijing due to the LAC standoff.

China does not have a diplomatic presence in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu, and the Chinese embassy in New Delhi coordinates relations between the two sides.

Following the clash with India in eastern Ladakh, China first claimed in July 2020 that it had a border dispute with Bhutan in the eastern sector, a region bordering Arunachal Pradesh, which is also claimed by Beijing.

Bhutan and China have held 24 rounds of talks between 1984 and 2016 to resolve their border issue, and according to discussions in the Bhutan parliament and other public records of these meetings, these discussions have only focused on disputes in the western and central sections. from the country. Perimeter. The two sides have also held 10 meetings of an expert group.

A statement issued by Bhutan’s Foreign Ministry described the MoU signed on Thursday as a “three-step roadmap to accelerate the border negotiations between Bhutan and China” that “will provide new impetus to the border talks.”

The statement read: “During the Tenth Meeting of the Group of Experts in Kunming in April this year, the two sides agreed on a Three-Step Roadmap that will build on the 1988 Guiding Principles and help speed up the ongoing border negotiations. “.

He added: “Implementation of this roadmap in a spirit of goodwill, understanding and accommodation is expected to bring the negotiations on the limits to a successful conclusion that is acceptable to both parties.”

The negotiations thus far between Bhutan and China have been conducted in a “spirit of understanding and conciliation” and “guided by the 1988 Joint Communiqué on the Guiding Principles for the Establishment of the Border and the 1998 Agreement on the Maintenance of peace, tranquility and the status “quo in the border areas between Bhutan and China”.

Responding to separate questions about the LAC standoff, Bagchi said India hopes that the Chinese side will work towards speedy resolution of all remaining problems in eastern Ladkah, fully complying with bilateral agreements and protocols. The situation in LAC is due to China’s unilateral attempts to alter the status quo in violation of bilateral agreements, he said.

At the thirteenth meeting of senior army commanders on October 10, India put forward constructive suggestions for a resolution on the remaining sticking points, but the Chinese side did not agree and did not make any forward-looking proposals, he said. The two sides agreed to maintain communications and stability on the ground, which was a “positive development,” he added.

The resolution of the remaining sticking points in Ladakh and the restoration of peace and tranquility will facilitate progress in bilateral relations in general, Bagchi said.

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