Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale held extensive talks with top brass of the Bhutanese government on key bilateral and regional issues during a two-day visit to Bhutan, his second in as many months.
Besides holding deliberations with his Bhutanese counterpart Dasho Sonam Tshong, Gokhale called on Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay and King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck during the visit which began yesterday, the External Affairs Ministry said.
“The talks were held in a cordial atmosphere in keeping with the unique and exemplary bonds of friendship and cooperation that exist between the two countries,” it said. Without elaborating, the ministry said matters “concerning” bilateral partnership figured in the talks. The situation in India, China, Bhutan tri-junction in Doklam is understood to have figured during talks between Gokhale and the Bhutanese Foreign Secretary.
The Foreign Secretary, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had quietly travelled to Bhutan in the first week of February during which they held extensive talks with the Bhutanese leaders on strategic issues including the situation in Doklam.
Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day-long standoff in Doklam from June 16 last year after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed Doklam tri-junction by the Chinese Army. Bhutan and China have a dispute over Doklam. The face-off ended on August 28. China and Bhutan are engaged in talks over the resolution of the dispute in the area.
India argues that since it is a tri-junction involving the three countries, it also has a say in the issue, specially in the backdrop of a 2012 agreement between special representatives of the two countries, that have till now held 20 rounds of talks.
“The visit was in keeping with the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries, and provided an opportunity to the two sides to discuss matters concerning our bilateral partnership, including the commemorative activities planned in 2018 to mark the Golden Jubilee of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries,” the ministry said on Gokhale’s visit.