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Chinese intrusions in Bhutan worry Indian Govt

Such intrusions can have a destabilising effect on the tiny monarchy as it takes uncertain steps towards democracy, reports Nilova Roy Chaudhury.
Hindustan Times | By Nilova Roy Chaudhury, New Delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 10, 2007 03:38 AM IST

India is deeply concerned at reports of Chinese intrusions into non-delineated parts of Bhutan's northern border with Tibet and is speaking to the governments both in Beijing and Thimpu to clarify the matter, top government sources said.

India is concerned that such Chinese intrusions, if they have occurred, could be a way of forcing Bhutan to settle the outstanding issues of delineating its border with China. On the eve of scheduled national elections in Bhutan, such intrusions could have a destabilising effect as the tiny monarchy takes uncertain steps towards a parliamentary system of democracy.

Clarifying that there have been no Chinese border violations with India, in Sikkim or elsewhere, the sources said China's incursions into Bhutan were a cause for worry and were being taken up with both the Chinese and Bhutanese governments.

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi is due to visit China on October 20, right after the 17th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, on a goodwill visit. She will be followed on October 24 by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Beijing.

The Special Representatives appointed to provide a political resolution to the long-disputed border problem of both countries, Dai Bingguo and National Security Adviser MK Narayanan, met last month in Beijing.

India will raise a variety of concerns, including the alleged border incursions, and the issue of China's position on the waiver for India at the Nuclear Suppliers Group when these high-profile visits take place later this month. Mukherjee will also finalise the agenda for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to China later this year.

Meanwhile, according to agency reports from Beijing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao, when asked about the India-US civil nuclear deal, said relevant countries could cooperate on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

"We also believe that the arrangement and discussions (between the US and India) should take into consideration the concerns of the international community," Liu said when asked to comment on the visit to India by Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, for talks with the Indian officials.

According to government sources in New Delhi, Mukherjee would meet El Baradei while Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon will host him for dinner on Wednesday, and he will meet the Indian Prime Minister on Thursday.

Talks on safeguards for Indian civilian reactors could come up informally during the discussions, at which Atomic Energy Chairman Anil Kakodkar would be present, the sources said.

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