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Urge for peaceful resolution of Sikkim standoff: Australia’s foreign minister

Australia would like the India-China standoff in the Donglang region near Sikkim to be resolved peacefully, foreign minister Julie Bishop has said.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2017 09:11 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India-Australia relations,Donglang standoff,India-China standoff
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop at a meeting in New Delhi on July 18, 2017. (PTI)

Australia would like all competing parties in the ongoing standoff in the Donglang sector to resolve their problems peacefully, Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop said on Tuesday.

Bishop, on a two-day visit to India, spoke about the border face-off with all her major interlocutors in New Delhi, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, defence minister Arun Jaitley and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj.

“I understand this is a long-standing dispute,” she told a news briefing. She drew an indirect comparison to the dispute over China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea, saying that in this case as well the Australian government wanted a peaceful resolution but one based on rules laid out under the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea.

Asked about India’s refusal to allow Australia to join the recently concluded Malabar naval exercises, she said Australia remained keen to join but it was up to each country to decide who they wanted to work with. She noted India and Australia had recently concluded the second round of their bilateral naval exercises.

On energy, Bishop noted that the first shipment of Australian uranium for India was “on its way” right now. The necessary parliamentary clearances to activate the bilateral civil nuclear supply agreement had been accomplished and Australia is satisfied about India’s commitment to global nuclear non-proliferation norms.

Bishop also spoke with the Indian side about counter-terrorism, the continuing negotiations over a bilateral free trade agreement, Australia’s role as an energy supplier to India and two types of new temporary work visas that Canberra has introduced to replace the older 457 visa category.

Commenting on recent surveys that showed the Australian public had among the most positive views about China, she said her country had a “positive engagement with China”. Chinese President Xi Jinping recently had a successful visit to Australia and had so far travelled to every one of the country’s states and territories.

“But Beijing has an increasingly assertive foreign policy and we do not see eye-to-eye on everything, including the South China Sea,” Bishop said.

First Published: Jul 18, 2017 22:59 IST