External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday met her Bhutanese counterpart Damcho Dorji in Kathmandu. Reportedly, Dorji hoped that the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in the Dokalam area of the Sikkim sector is resolved peacefully and amicably. Also, India told Bhutan not to get intimidated by Beijing’s angry rhetoric, according to a report in The Indian Express. The comments from the sides of Bhutan and India came after the meeting between the two countries on the sidelines of the BIMSTEC foreign ministers’ meeting in the Nepal capital.
“We hope the situation in Dokalam will be resolved peacefully and amicably,” Dorji told reporters, as per a report in news agency PTI. This was the first official reaction from Bhutan after Beijing’s claim that the Himalayan nation had acknowledged that Dokalam belonged to China. However, China had not offered any evidence to support its claim. However, there was no official word from the Indian side on what was discussed during the meeting.
Both Swaraj and Dorji were in Nepal to attend a meeting of foreign ministers from the countries of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), a grouping of countries in South Asia and South East Asia.
“Time with a close friend and neighbour. The external affairs minister meets with foreign minister of Bhutan Damcho Dorji on sidelines of BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers’ meet,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted and also posted a picture of the meeting.
Time with a close friend and neighbour. EAM meets with FM of Bhutan Damcho Dorji on sidelines of BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers’ meet pic.twitter.com/VR0OOdiDF8
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) August 11, 2017
The two leaders mainly discussed BIMSTEC cooperation and a range of issues in bilateral relations, Sudhakar Dalale, Joint Secretary North, said of the Swaraj-Dorji meeting.
The meeting between the two leaders comes against the backdrop of the current standoff in Dokalam — a trijunction between India, China and Bhutan.
India and China have been locked in a face-off in the Dokalam area of the Sikkim sector since June 16 after Indian troops stopped the Chinese People’s Liberation Army from building a road in the area.