By Tenzin Dharpo
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meets with her Bhutanese counterpart Damcho Dorjee in Kathmandu on Friday, Aug. 11, 2017. Source- MEA twitter
DHARAMSHALA, Aug. 11: Weeks into the ongoing Doklam row, Bhutan has taken a bolder stance saying it has not said that the disputed Doklam region belongs to China, as claimed by Beijing’s Foreign Ministry official earlier this week.
The pro-active stance by Bhutan comes in light of China’s Deputy Director General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs, Wang Wenli telling a delegation of Indian journalists in Beijing that Bhutan has made it clear to China that the area in dispute is not Bhutanese territory through official diplomatic channel.
ANI cited a source in the Bhutanese government who reportedly said, "Our position on the border issue of Doklam is very clear. Please refer to our statement which has been published on the web site of Bhutan's foreign ministry on June 29, 2017."
In the June 29 press release, the tiny Himalayan nation clearly stated that the construction of the road inside Bhutanese territory is a direct violation of the agreements and affects the process of demarcating the boundary between the two countries.
Further more, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday met with her Bhutanese counterpart Damcho Dorji in Kathmandu on the sidelines of the BIMSTEC meeting. The agenda of the meeting, large section of the Indian media speculated, was the Doklam issue.
In New Delhi, Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday assured the Lok Sabha that Indian armed forces are prepared to face any eventuality. “Nobody should have a doubt on that,” Jaitley responded when it comes to India’s ability to counter Chinese aggression.
The tri-lateral border standoff in the Doklam plateau, experts say, has the potential to lead into full on war between China and treaty-bound India in the Doklam plateau. Till date, Bhutan and China have held 24 rounds of talks to resolve boundary dispute, while India and China have completed 19 rounds of talks.