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Bhutan, China sign pact on border talks, India takes note

The signing of the pact came four years after the Indian and Chinese armies were locked in a 73-day standoff at the Doklam tri-junction after China tried to extend a road in the area that Bhutan claimed belonged to it.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi. (Video screengrab)

India on Thursday said that it “noted” the agreement between Bhutan and China on a “three-step roadmap” to expedite negotiations to resolve their boundary dispute.

The signing of the pact came four years after the Indian and Chinese armies were locked in a 73-day standoff at the Doklam tri-junction after China tried to extend a road in the area that Bhutan claimed belonged to it.

“We have noted the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Bhutan and China today. You are aware that Bhutan and China have been holding boundary negotiations since 1984. India has similarly been holding boundary negotiations with China,” the Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, said.

In a statement, Bhutan said its Foreign Minister, Lyonpo Tandi Dorji, and China’s Assistant Foreign Minister, Wu Jianghao, on Thursday signed the MoU on the “three-step roadmap” for expediting the Bhutan-China boundary negotiations. “The MoU on the three-step roadmap will provide a fresh impetus to the boundary talks,” the Bhutanese foreign ministry said.

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It is expected that the implementation of this roadmap in a spirit of goodwill, understanding and accommodation will bring the boundary negotiations to a successful conclusion that is acceptable to both sides, it said.

“The negotiations which have been conducted in a spirit of understanding and accommodation have been guided by the 1988 Joint Communique on the Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the Boundary and the 1998 agreement on the maintenance of peace, tranquillity and status quo in the Bhutan-China Border areas,” the Bhutanese foreign ministry said.

“During the 10th Expert Group Meeting 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 to expedite the ongoing boundary negotiations,” it said.

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Bhutan shares an over 400-km-long border with China and the two countries have held over 24 rounds of boundary talks in a bid to resolve the dispute.

With PTI

First published on: 15-10-2021 at 02:42:46 am
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