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Foreign secretary S. Jaishankar says China is ‘unusually’ aggressive

India on Tuesday briefed top diplomats of a few foreign missions individually in New Delhi about the current Sino-Indian military stand-off in the Doklam area of Bhutan, and foreign secretary S. Jaishankar reportedly told a parliamentary panel that China’s stand in the Sikkim sector has been unusually “aggressive” and articulate.

Mr Jaishankar, while briefing the panel on external affairs, maintained that New Delhi is engaged with Beijing in defusing the tension through diplomatic channels.

Some TV channels reporting that Mr Jaishankar had advocated a “deep breath, stop and engage” policy as a way of resolving the matter, indicating that both countries would have to talk it out and solve the matter.

New Delhi briefed top diplomats of a few foreign countries in New Delhi after China had carried out a similar exercise of briefing foreign diplomats in Beijing about the stand-off last week.

It is learnt that foreign missions in New Delhi, worried about the stand-off, requested that they be updated. New Delhi is keeping the diplomats of United States, Russia, Britain, France, Japan and Germany in the loop about developments on the border.

There were also TV reports that Congress vice-president and Lok Sabha member Rahul Gandhi had asked about Chinese intentions and Indo-Bhutanese special relationship at the meeting of the panel of which he is also a member.

The Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing said on Tuesday that India should not use “trespass” into the Doklam area as a “policy tool” to achieve its “political targets”, and asked New Delhi to immediately withdraw its troops to avoid any escalation. “Jaishankar told us that China’s aggression and rhetoric on the recent standoff is unusual but it is not that complicated as it is being projected in some quarters. We will continue to engage with them through diplomatic channels,” one of the MPs in the panel was quoted by news agency PTI as saying. The foreign secretary told the panel that India has clearly outlined its position on the border and Chinese have their own position, but they are misinterpreting it and so India was trying to clarify it. He said that India has been maintaining the same position since 1895 as per an Anglo-Chinese agreement.

Words like “war-like situation or conflict” were not used by the foreign secretary, and he stuck to the word “stand-off” to describe the current situation in Doklam, another member said. Both members spoke on condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the meeting.

Chinese and Indian soldiers have been locked in a face-off for over a month after Indian troops stopped the Chinese Army from building a road in the Doklam area of Bhutan which China claims as its territory. “Since the illegal trespass by Indian border personnel, many foreign diplomats in China felt shocked about this and (wanted) to confirm whether it was true,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing when asked about the reported briefing by China there last week to foreign missions. “The Chinese side maintains close communication with the foreign diplomatic missions on the issues they are interested,” Mr Lu told reporters.


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