New Delhi, Aug 4: The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday reiterated India’s stance on the ongoing standoff near Sikkim border, claiming that ‘peaceful diplomatic’ steps are being taken to resolve the dispute. The MEA claimed that it is not only engaging with China, but also Bhutan, the third party in the tri-junction row. Also Read - Kim Jong-un Writes to Xi Jinping, Pledges Support to China on Its 71st Founding Anniversary
MEA spokesperson Gopal Bagley, while addressing reporters here, said the Indian side is continuously coordinating with Bhutan to arrive at a “mutually-acceptable solution” to resolve the Doklam row. Also Read - International Flights: Indians Now Can Fly to Kenya, Bhutan Under Air Bubble Arrangements, Says Aviation Minister Puri
“We have been closely coordinating with the Royal Government of Bhutan since the controversy erupted (on June 16),” Bagley stated. ALSO READ: ‘Will Resolve Doklam Dispute With China Using Wisdom, Not War’ Also Read - India Doesn't Give 'Straight Count' on COVID-19 Deaths, Says Trump at US Presidential Debate
Bhutan, a close strategic ally of India, claims Doklam to be part of its territory. China, however, contests the claim, citing the 1890 convention inked with Great Britain, which reportedly placed Doklam plateau under the jurisdiction of Tibet.
“The territorial issue in Doklam, and the rest of Sino-Indian border, will be resolve in a peaceful and diplomatic offer. As said by our External Affairs Minister (Sushma Swaraj) in the Parliament, war is not an option,” Bagley said.
On being asked about the sabre-rattling by Beijing through its state-run media publications, Bagley replied that India would exercise restraint in its use of language. “Our objective is to achieve peace and tranquility through diplomacy,” he added.
The MEA spokesperson, however, did not offer a specific reply on being asked whether India has reduced its soldiers from 400 to 40 at the Doklam plateau, calling it a an operational matter. Beijing on Wednesday claimed that Indian forces were retreating from the standoff, amid the pressure maintained by China’s PLA.
The standoff at Doklam now continues for nearly the past 50 days. The controversy erupted after India prevented a road construction party of PLA from entering the Doklam plateau. Defending its move, India claims that construction of road would alter the status quo, raising security concerns.
Doklam, the tri-junction region, lies in acute proximate range to the Siliguri corridor. Also referred to as the ‘chicken’s neck’, the Siliguri corridor connects the rest of India with the northeastern states. The press not issued by India on June 30 reflects the point. It states: “India has conveyed to the Chinese government that such construction would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for India.”