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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

NSA Ajit Doval in Beijing amid standoff as China demands Indian troop withdrawal

NSA Ajit Doval has arrived in Beijing for a BRICS security meeting against the backdrop of simmering tensions caused by the India-China standoff near the Sikkim border.

world Updated: Jul 26, 2017 19:56 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
NSA Ajit Doval leaves Parliament House after attending the swearing-in ceremony of President Ram Nath Kovind in New Delhi on July 25, 2017.
NSA Ajit Doval leaves Parliament House after attending the swearing-in ceremony of President Ram Nath Kovind in New Delhi on July 25, 2017. (PTI)

India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval arrived in Beijing on Wednesday afternoon for a multilateral security meet but the focus will be on his bilateral interactions with the Chinese leadership against the backdrop of the military standoff near the Sikkim border.

Doval will meet President Xi Jinping with his counterparts from BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries on Friday. Security officials from BRICS states are meeting to discuss issues such as counter-terrorism and cyber-security in the run-up to the grouping’s summit to be held in China’s Xiamen city in September.

But the focus will be on whether Doval’s meetings with Chinese officials, including state councillor Yang Jiechi, will help to resolve – or at least ease - the tensions in Donglang, where the standoff is now into its second month.

The BRICS-related meetings, including the meeting with Xi, are slated for Friday but Chinese and Indian officials here were tight-lipped about Doval’s schedule.

Beijing on Wednesday repeated its precondition for any dialogue with India to resolve the standoff: New Delhi has to withdraw its troops from Donglang, which is under Beijing’s control but claimed by Thimphu.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi has blamed India for the face-off and importantly chose a foreign country, Thailand, to air his strong views on the situation. Wang told reporters in Bangkok this week the “problem was very straightforward” and “even Indian officials publicly said that Chinese soldiers didn’t enter the Indian territory”.

This meant, he indicated, the “Indian side admitted (crossing) into Chinese territory”. The resolution of the problem is very “simple”, he said: “Indian troops have to go out.”

India has said it acted in coordination with Bhutan to block the construction of a road by Chinese troops at Donglang as it would alter the status quo and have serious implications for national security.

On Monday, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang indicated Doval is likely to meet Yang in Beijing but ruled out a discussion on the Donglang standoff.

 “As far as we know, in previous meetings, usually it is arranged for the heads of delegations to hold (bilateral) meetings to exchange views on bilateral relations and other international issues,” Lu had said.

He had added: “The crux now is Indian border troops illegally stayed on China’s territory. Once again, we urge India to pull back to the Indian side of the boundary. I want to stress that this is the precondition for any meaningful talks between the two sides.”

Doval’s visit is part of the build-up for the BRICS Summit to be held in Xiamen city in the first week of September, which will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

If the standoff between India and China isn’t resolved by then, it will cast a shadow of uncertainty over the summit and might put a question mark on the idea of BRICS.

For now, the multilateral element of the BRICS security summit will be on display this week.

On Friday, the five heads of security delegations from the BRICS states will meet to discuss global governance, counter-terrorism, cyber security, energy security, international and regional hotspots, and national security and development.

Besides Doval and Yang, minister of state security David Mahlobo of South Africa, Minister Sergio Etchegoyen of the Office of Institutional Security of the Presidency of Brazil and Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev will attend the meeting.

First Published: Jul 26, 2017 19:54 IST

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