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Ahead of monsoon session, govt to hold talks with Oppn on China, Kashmir

Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj will apprise the opposition leaders of the Sikkim standoff and the situation in Kashmir.

india Updated: Jul 13, 2017 21:38 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sikiim standoff,China,Kashmir
Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj will brief opposition leaders on Sikkim standoff and the situation in Kashmir.(HT File Photo)

The Narendra Modi government will brief key opposition leaders on Friday on the border stand-off with China, which shows no sign of abating, in a bid to build consensus over a key foreign policy challenge ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament beginning July 17.

Home minister Rajnath Singh, defence minister Arun Jaitley and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj – members of the cabinet committee on security – will apprise the opposition leaders of the longest border faceoff between the two nuclear-armed neighbours in recent times, as well as brief them about the overall dip in bilateral ties.

The ministers are also expected to talk about the situation in Kashmir. The government is seeking to build consensus on the two key issues ahead of the parliament session to ensure the smooth functioning of the house and to ward off criticism that the opposition is not consulted on major issues. The government has lined up as many as 28 bills for consideration and passing in the coming session.

The standoff in Doklam near the India- Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction has continued for the past three weeks after the Chinese army tried to build a road there. China has called for the immediate withdrawal of Indian troops from the area, and warned that the situation could get worse.

The aggression shown by Beijing and New Delhi’s response to it gave the opposition an occasion to question the government’s strategy. Last week, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence” on China.

“We are at an advantageous position in Doka La,” a union minister told HT, using another name for Doklam. “We have entered a strategic location and can not fritter it away for domestic political reasons.”

National Security adviser Ajit Doval is likely to travel to China for a meeting of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) on July 27-28. The diplomatic channels are open to sort out the row, and foreign secretary S Jaishankar had said there is no reason why India cannot sort out the border issue this time the way it has done in the past.

In the latest tussle, New Delhi has expressed concerns over its biggest neighbour trying to change the status quo at the India-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction in Doklam.

For India, the move violates a 2012 bilateral understanding that requires China to take the party concerned (Bhutan) into confidence before any construction activities. Bhutan, which doesn’t have diplomatic ties with China, lodged a protest with China.

Ties with China have come under renewed strain due to a host of irritants, including Beijing blocking of India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which goes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

First Published: Jul 13, 2017 20:36 IST