No talks on Doklam till Indian troops withdraw, says China

Beijing: On the eve of Indian National Security Agency (NSA) Ajit Doval’s China visit to attend the BRICS security summit, Beijing on Wednesday made clear that India’s pullback from Doklam on the border remained the “precondition” for any dialogue on the issue.

Doval will be in Beijing for a meeting of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) high representatives for security issues during July 27-28.

“On bilateral meetings, I do not have the relevant information right now. As far as we know, in previous meetings, usually it is arranged for the heads of delegations to hold meetings to exchange views on bilateral relations and other international issues,” foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a regular news briefing.

Lu, however, was quick to put a question mark on a discussion between Doval and Yang, the head of the Chinese delegation for the BRICS meeting, on the face-off between Indian and Chinese troops at Donglang or Doklam.

The pre-condition for any such discussion, he made it clear, is the withdrawal of Indian troops to the Indian side of the Sikkim boundary.

“The crux now is Indian border troops illegally stayed on China’s territory. Once again, we urge India to pull back to the Indian side of the boundary. I want to stress that this is the precondition for any meaningful talks between the two sides,” Lu said.

This despite the fact that “China and India have a smooth diplomatic channel”, he said.

In New Delhi, there was no official reaction to Lu’s comments from the external affairs ministry.

He also hinted that India has the responsibility for initiating dialogue on the standoff, which has entered its second month.

“China hopes to maintain peace and stability of border areas but China will not make any compromise on sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said. “The responsibility for this incident lies completely with India and we hope India can get a clear understanding of the situation and can take swift and correct measures to avoid escalation of the situation.”

Asked about Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop’s comments in India calling for a peaceful resolution to territorial issues, Lu said her comments were “correct” but “this principle does not apply to the current standoff as there is no dispute in the Doklam region”.

Beijing has contended that an 1890 treaty between British India and the then ruling Qing dynasty in China had demarcated the Sikkim boundary.

Lu said the security summit later this week is a platform for BRICS countries to “strengthen strategic communication, increase political mutual trust as well as discuss hotspot issues”.

Doval and Yang also currently lead the “special representatives” mechanism for talks between India and China on the boundary issue. As many as 19 rounds of talks have been held between the two sides under the mechanism.

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