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India, Bhutan discuss bilateral ties

India, Bhutan discuss bilateral ties

Mr. Jaishankar's visit came in the backdrop of reports that China is amassing troops near Bhutan's Doklam plateau and other areas, barely a month after a standoff with India ended at the Doklam plateau.

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, held talks with the top leadership in Thimpu this week and discussed "complete range of bilateral relations" with that country.

According to an Indian foreign ministry statement, Jaishankar, who landed in Bhutan on Sunday, called on the country's current monarch Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck as well as his father, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, besides Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay and foreign minister Lyonpo Damcho Dorji. The Chinese army reportedly transgressed into disputed zones of the Bhutan-China border over the last week, the report said.

"The two sides also shared their perspective on regional and other issues of mutual interest", the statement said without giving specifics.

The MEA said the aim of the visit was to expand the “unique ties” between the two neighbours. If that is the case, this will not be the first time Beijing's domestic posturing has affected ties between India and Bhutan.

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The ministry said Bhutan's priorities for the 12th five-year plan and bilateral cooperation in areas of trade and economic ties, hydropower cooperation, and people to people contacts, were also discussed. Bhutan also is in talks with China to settle their boundary, some sections of which are yet to be demarcated.

India has not yet objected to China's fresh road-construction activity, which is around 10-km from the earlier troop face-off site, because it is not southwards towards the militarily-sensitive Jampheri Ridge area like before.

The standoff ended on 28 August with both sides pulling back.

China is now upgrading and widening its existing motorable road in the Bhutanese territory of Doklam after Indian troops stopped People's Liberation Army from extending it towards the Jampheri Ridge, which overlooks the strategically-vulnerable Siliguri Corridor or so-called "Chicken's Neck" area, in mid-June.

Nearly a month after India and China said to have turned down the aggressive standoff at the Sikkim border, the Chinese troops are reportedly back with the road construction plans.


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