Border Peace

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meets Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in New Delhi Dec. 11, 2017. (IANS photo)

NEW DELHI — Peace along the India-China border is a pre-requisite for strong bilateral relations, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during a meeting earlier this week, the government said Dec. 13.

Both Swaraj and Wang also noted the "challenge" that the Doklam stand-off posed to bilateral ties and both sides expressed satisfaction at its resolution "through concerted diplomatic communications" when they met Dec. 11, the External Affairs Ministry said.

A day after media reports on the Chinese version of what transpired at the meeting, the External Affairs Ministry said both sides expressed satisfaction over the way the 73-day standoff was resolved.

Confirming that the Doklam issue was discussed by India and China when the foreign ministers of the two countries met Dec. 11, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, in a statement said both sides noted the "challenge" the 73-day standoff posed to bilateral ties.

On  Dec. 12, China issued a statement giving details of the meeting. According to the statement, during the meeting Wang said the Doklam stand-off had put a "severe" strain on bilateral ties. He blamed it on "viciousness caused by the cross-border infiltration of the Indian border guards."

"EAM (Sushma Swaraj) and Chinese Foreign Minister both noted the challenge it had posed to the relationship and both expressed satisfaction that it was resolved with the disengagement of troops at the face-off site through concerted diplomatic communications," Kumar said.

According to the spokesperson, Wang said that the peaceful resolution of the Doklam issue reflects political maturity on both sides.

Agreeing with Wang’s statement, Sushma Swaraj reiterated that "maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas is an essential pre-requisite for the smooth development of bilateral relations."

She also underlined the importance of approaching bilateral differences with due consideration for each other's sensitivities and concerns.

"She recalled the consensus between the leaders of India and China reached in Astana earlier this year on the need to work together to ensure that our differences do not become disputes," Kumar said.

Wang also said that India and China share the same objectives of national development and should be natural partners.

"To this end, both foreign ministers agreed to strengthen strategic communication at all levels, including between them, through the established dialogue mechanisms," the spokesperson added.

Wang was in Delhi for the Russia-India-China Foreign Ministers' meeting.

The armies of both countries were locked in a 73-day stand-off at Doklam in the Sikkim section of the Sino-Indian border over the building of a road by the Chinese military in an area that is claimed by Bhutan.

Indian troops stalled the work citing Doklam’s disputed status and its proximity to a key artery in the northeast. The crisis was resolved Aug. 28 after both armies retreated from the disputed point, days ahead of the BRICS summit in China.

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