New Delhi: Notwithstanding China’s reservations, India on Thursday maintained that the current border stand-off in Doklam would be resolved diplomatically like it had solved all its disputes with Beijing in the past using diplomatic channels.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said diplomatic channels were “available” to the two countries that would continue to be used.
He referred to a “conversation” between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg last week “where they spoke over a range of issues”.
“As far as the Doklam issue is concerned, you know we have diplomatic channels. Embassies are there in both the countries and those channels will continue to be used,” Baglay said in his weekly media briefing.
China and India are locked in a standoff in the Doklam area in Sikkim sector near the Bhutan tri-junction for over three weeks after the Chinese army attempted to build a road in the disputed narrow stretch of land.
Doklam is the Indian name for the region which China refers to as Donglong.
Asked about the provocative statements from China and the Chinese media over the border issue, the spokesperson said the government had “clearly laid out” its position and approach to deal with the matter.
“We have referred to how the two governments have been engaged in the last few years in addressing this issue, the boundary matter and the tri-junction. We have also mentioned understandings between the two countries,” he said.
Baglay referred to Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar’s speech in Singapore earlier this week when he said India and China have handled their border issues in the past and there was no reason why they would not be able to deal with it this time.
“He (Jaishankar) referred to the understanding between the two leaders (Modi and Xi) which essentially underlines the approach we are following in this regard. So, we are very much seized of the matter, we are very much sure of the approach that is being taken and that is where it stands,” the spokesperson said.
On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Office spokesman Geng Shuang dismissed Jaishankar’s remarks saying the “trespass” by the Indian troops in Doklam was different from the “frictions in the undefined sections of the boundary” between India and China.
Asked if Modi and Xi particularly talked about the Doklam issue, Baglay refused a direct reply saying: “I would leave it to your imagination and common sense to summarise what can be covered in the range of issues.”
“We have accumulated a lot of experience on both sides in addressing a number of matters. You know it and it has been said. Not only by us but by others also,” he said.
He pointed out that the result of this approach has been “the tranquility” along the 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh. Some 220 km of the border falls in Sikkim.
Pressed further if New Delhi and Beijing were talking, and through which channel since China has ruled out talks until Indian troops vacate Doklam, Baglay said his comments needed to be taken in “totality”.
“The matter we are dealing with is a serious matter for a number of reasons. We have outlined our position, we have outlined our approach in this regard. I said a range of issues was discussed in conversation between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi. Then I said diplomatic channels are available. I don’t think I would like to comment on what is happening or what is being done in this regard. I request you to see in totality what I said.”
Asked if National Security Advisor Ajit Doval was visiting China this month, Baglay denied having any information in this regard.
When a TV journalist asked what were the issues discussed between Modi and Xi during their “five minute meeting” in Hamburg, Baglay said “it is not for me to cover the range of issues they discussed”.
To China denying any meeting between the two leaders, Baglay said: “I would only refer you to the information that we put out the same afternoon after the meeting. There was a picture that we had tweeted, there was a brief text that we had tweeted…”