Amid the border tension in Doka La (Doklam), Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met her Bhutanese counterpart Damcho Dorji in Kathmandu on the sidelines of the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) Ministerial meeting.
Both sides discussed the border standoff at the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction. Speaking to the press after the meeting, the Bhutanese foreign minister said, “We hope the situation in Doklam will be resolved peacefully and amicably”.
This was the first meeting between the two ministers since the Doklam crisis broke out.
This meeting also comes at a time when China has been upping the ante with its media blitzkrieg of opinion pieces and articles in the Chinese mouthpieces as well as regular statements from the Chinese foreign ministry ‘warning’ India of dire consequences if it does not withdraw troops from Doklam.
This is also the first time that there has been an official reaction from the Bhutanese side since the press release that the Bhutan’s foreign ministry put out on June 29 which read, “Bhutan has conveyed to the Chinese side, both on the ground and through the diplomatic channel, that the construction of the road inside Bhutanese territory is a direct violation of the agreements and affects the process of demarcating the boundary between our two countries. Bhutan hopes that the status quo in the Doklam area will be maintained as before 16 June 2017.”
The crisis began in mid-June when Indian forces prevented Chinese troops from building a road in Doka La (Doklam), an area which is disputed between Bhutan and China.