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Bhutan welcomes end of Doklam standoff between India and China

LiveMint logoLiveMint 29-08-2017 Elizabeth Roche

New Delhi: Bhutan on Tuesday welcomed the end of the more than two-month-long military standoff between India and China on its Doklam plateau, sparked by Beijing’s move in June to construct a road across it.

“Bhutan welcomes the disengagement by the two sides at the face-off site in the Doklam area,” the Bhutanese foreign ministry said in a brief statement. “We hope this contributes to the maintenance of peace and tranquillity and status quo along the borders of Bhutan, China and India in keeping with the existing agreements between the respective countries,” it said.

The statement comes a day after India announced that New Delhi and Beijing had agreed to a speedy disengagement on the Doklam plateau—strategically significant as it gives China access to the so-called “chicken’s neck”, a thin strip of land connecting India’s North-eastern states with the rest of the country.

Tensions between India and China have been high since 16 June after Bhutan objected to Chinese troops building a road across Doklam. Indian troops stationed in Bhutan under a special security arrangement intervened to keep Chinese troops out, triggering the standoff. India says that as per the terms of an understanding with China reached in 2012, disputes over tri-junction areas—those falling between three countries like in Doklam—have to be settled by all the three parties. Ahead of the disengagement, China had refused to acknowledge a role for India, stating that the dispute was between China and Bhutan. China does not have direct diplomatic ties with Bhutan and has been trying to open an embassy in Thimphu for many years.

That the Dokalam standoff ended the way it did is being seen as a diplomatic victory for India given that it was seen as standing firm against Chinese pressure and in support of a smaller country in the face of Chinese aggression.

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