Doklam standoff: Sushma meets Bhutanese Foreign Minister, Chinese Navy eyes Indian Ocean to extend reach


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Amid the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam area in Sikkim sector, Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday assured the Lok Sabha that Indian armed forces are prepared to face any eventuality. His response came against a question on reports of troop movements in Tibet by China amid the Doklam standoff. When Jaitley was asked to explain reasons behind the Indian armed forces not having adequate defence equipment to tackle an exigency, Jaitley said: “Our defence forces are ready to take on any eventuality,” he said without making any specific reference to Doklam.

There was another question that was asked about a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report which stated that the defence forces have ammunition that can last for 22 days in an event of a war, instead of the mandatory 40 days. To this, the Defence Minister replied that significant progress has been made on this front thereafter, but did not elaborate. “Nobody should have a doubt on that,” Jaitley asserted. Also Read: Forces prepared to face any eventuality: Arun Jaitley

Doklam standoff: Sushma Swaraj attends BIMSTEC meet

Meanwhile, External Affairs Sushma Swaraj today met Bhutanese counterpart Damcho Dorji and is believed to have discussed bilateral issues, amidst the Doklam standoff. Both the leaders are here 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.

Preeti Saran, MEA Secretary (EAST) told news agency ANI that the BIMSTEC meeting was held in a very positive and constructive atmosphere and that all other member countries recognized role India has played in taking lead in rejuvenating this grouping. Joint Secretary in-charge of ties with Bhutan Sudhkara Dalela said that the discussion focused on BIMSTEC related cooperation. “Both reviewed all aspects of India-Bhutan partnership which is wide ranging.”

Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal are members of the BIMSTEC. The meeting comes in the backdrop of the current standoff in Dokalam – a trijunction between India, China and Bhutan. Also Read: China steps up troop presence, PLA analyst says Beijing will make no ‘compromise’

Chinese Navy eyes Indian Ocean as part of PLA’s plan to extend its reach amid Doklam standoff

In the backdrop of the Doklam standoff, Chinese Navy has reached out to India to maintain security China in the Indian Ocean amid increasing concerns in New Delhi over the growing presence of the PLA fleet in India’s backyard. In a first, People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) threw open its strategic South Sea Fleet (SSF) base in the coastal city of Zhanjiang to a group of Indian journalists. “It is my opinion China and India can make joint contributions to the safety and security of the Indian Ocean,” Capt Liang Tianjun, Deputy Chief of General Office of China’s SSF said. His remarks came as China’s Navy embarked on a massive expansion to extend its global reach.

US favours dialogue between India and China on Doklam

Meanwhile, the US said it wants China and India to engage in a dialogue over the Doklam standoff. In a statement to news agency PTI, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said: “It’s a situation that we have certainly followed closely.” “As you know, we have relationships with both governments. We continue to encourage both parties to sit down and have conversations about that. And I’ll just leave it at that,” Nauert added

Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a stand-off in the Doklam area of the Sikkim sector for seven weeks now after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the disputed area. China claimed that they were constructing the road within their territory and has been demanding immediate pull-out of the Indian troops from the disputed Doklam plateau. New Delhi has expressed concern over the road building, apprehending that it may allow Chinese troops to cut India’s access to its northeastern states. Also Read: Learnt lesson from ’62, troops capable: Arun Jaitley

India has conveyed to the Chinese government that the road construction would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for it. Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Doklam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region.

Of the 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim. China also claims that Thimphu has no dispute with Beijing over Doklam.

Online Source: The Indian Express

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