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Only MEA to talk on ‘sensitive’ Doklam issue ahead of BRICS summit: PM Modi

According to sources, the Prime Minister said India’s success in Doklam had to be publicised, but cautioned against other ministers speaking out of turn, and said the job best be left to the external affairs ministry.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2017 10:36 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
Moushumi Das Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Doklam,India,China
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a public meeting with Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in New Delhi on August 24, 2017. (AFP File Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told his ministers while India’s success in ensuring withdrawal of the Chinese troops from Doklam needs to be publicised, the job should be left to the ministry of external affairs (MEA).

Other than the MEA, ministers should not speak on the sensitive subject, sources quoted Modi as saying during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The instructions came ahead of his visit to Xiamen in China for the ninth Brics summit from September 3 to 5. Brazil, Russia and South Africa are the other Brics members.

“The Prime Minister said whatever publicity has to be done, whatever statement has to be made will be done by the ministry of external affairs. Cabinet ministers should not speak out of turn… should not jump the gun,” a source privy to the deliberations at the cabinet meeting said.

The soldiers of the two countries were locked in a standoff in the disputed Himalayan plateau for more than two months after China accused India of trespass. Both China and Bhutan claim Doklam, which borders Sikkim on India’s northeast.

The decision of the two sides to “disengage” was hailed as a diplomatic win for New Delhi as China had put on hold the plan to build a road that triggered the row. Chinese view it as India’s withdrawal.

“The PM said that the government handled the Doklam issue well but at the same time, because of the sensitivity involved, he asked his cabinet colleagues not to speak anything on the issue,” the source said.

MEA officials made a presentation before the cabinet on the stand-off and India’s concerns.

Responding to a query at a media briefing after the meeting, defence minister Arun Jaitley said, “The MEA has already given its statement. Considering the sensitivity of the matter, there is no need to give multiple statements.”

First Published: Aug 30, 2017 22:50 IST