First border talks after Doklam
First border talks after Doklam

First border talks after Doklam

S. Sivadas

S. Sivadas

India and China will hold a fresh round of border talks on Friday under the special representatives’ mechanism which will be the first on the sticky boundary issue since the 73-day standoff in Doklam.

In the 20th round of special representatives talks, the National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, and China's State Councillor, Yang Jiechi are likely to deliberate on ways to maintain peace and tranquillity along the 4,000-km border between the two countries.

The Doklam standoff is expected to figure in the talks.

Asked about the talks, the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, said the discussions will be focused on the boundary issue, adding 'we, of course, attach lot of importance to this dialogue mechanism.'

Ahead of the talks, China had said the Doklam standoff posed a 'major test' for the bilateral ties and lessons should be learnt from it to avoid a similar 'conflict' in the future.

The Doklam standoff began on June 16 over the People's Liberation Army's plans to build a road in an area claimed by Bhutan after the Indian troops intervened to stop it as it posed a security risk to 'Chicken Neck', the narrow corridor connecting India with its North-eastern states.

The standoff ended on August 28 following mutual agreement between India and China. Asked about the disengagement of troops in Doklam, Kumar refused to give details, calling it an operational matter. During the weekly media briefing, he said it was not appropriate to comment on operational matters like how the disengagement had taken place, how many troops were stationed, where.

Asked about India's position on China's One Belt One Road project, he said India's policy is very clear and consistent. 'We believe that connectivity initiatives should be based on universally recognised norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and must be pursued in a manner which respects territorial integrity and sovereignty,' he said.

India has opposed the OBOR due to its sovereignty concerns over the USD 50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). CPEC is part of the OBOR.

Asked about the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, recently pitching for India joining the project, Kumar said India will always be open to any efforts which will address its concerns.