Doklam row: India, China agree to remove troops

RSTV Bureau

India China flagsA week ahead of BRICS Summit in China, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was likely to attend, both India and China have agreed to end the Doklam stalemate.

According to a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs, both India and China have agreed to “expeditious disengagement” of border personnel at Dokalam.

“In recent weeks, India and China have maintained diplomatic communication in respect of the incident at Dokalam. During these communications, we were able to express our views and convey our concerns and interests….On this basis, expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site in Dokalam has been agreed to and is ongoing,” the MEA spokesperson said.

Troops of the two countries have been locked in a standoff in Dokalam near Sikkim since June after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the disputed area.

Even though there has been no official word on the status of the road, experts say that China has backed down on the issue. China and India have been engaged in a standoff in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan trijunction for the past couple of months. Trouble began after a construction party of the Chinese army came to build a road.

The MEA statement did not explicitly say if Chinese and Indian troops have withdrawn from the area but China claimed in a statement that Indian troops have indeed pulled back. China, however, remained ambiguous about the status of its own troops.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing, “Chinese troops on the ground have verified it. China continues to exercise sovereignty. China will make adjustments according to the situation…The Chinese side continues to uphold sovereignty and territorial integrity according to the historical convention.”

Earlier, China had said that it would come to the talking table to resolve the issue, only when India removed all troops from the area.

India too was adamant and pressed for talks only after both sides withdrew troops.

Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Doklam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region.

China and Bhutan are engaged in talks over the resolution of the area. Bhutan, however, has no diplomatic ties with China and it is supported militarily and diplomatically by India.

(With inputs from PTI)