China should drop road plan for troops pullout, says Centre

China should drop road plan for troops pullout, says Centre

Govt briefs Opposition on standoff

China should drop road plan for troops pullout, says Centre
India will withdraw its soldiers from Doklam Plateau of Bhutan only if China does the same to restore status quo, the government told Opposition leaders here on Friday.

The government, however, said it would continue its diplomatic efforts to resolve the face-off with China. The Opposition parties conveyed “strong support” to the government’s approach of dealing with the situation through diplomatic channels. They also underlined the “need for national unity”.

New Delhi conveyed to Beijing that Chinese People’s Liberation Army must drop its plan to build a road in Doklam Plateau and withdraw its personnel from the area, sources quoted senior ministers who briefed the Opposition leaders.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Home Minister Rajnath Singh took the Opposition leaders into confidence on the current India-China military face-off in western Bhutan.
They also briefed the Opposition leaders about the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the recent terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims.

The MPs attending the meeting condemned the attack. Sources quoted the ministers telling the Opposition leaders that senior diplomats of India and China were in regular contact and discussing ways to end the face-off. New Delhi has been insisting on restoration of the status quo that existed in India-China-Bhutan tri-junction boundary point before June 16, Jaitley, Singh and Swaraj conveyed to the Opposition leaders.

“Importance of India and China remaining engaged through diplomacy was underlined. There was widespread appreciation of the Astana understanding between India and China that differences between them should not become disputes,” Gopal Baglay, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said.

He was referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Astana in early June.

“National security has always been a priority for the Congress. We advised them (the government) to deal with the situation diplomatically. We are rising above politics in national interest,” Anand Sharma of the Congress told mediapersons after the meeting.

“We asked serious questions. Why was the government unprepared & if this was their failure? We didn't get answers we were looking for,” Derek O'Brien of the Trinamool Congress said.

Apart from Sharma and O'Brien, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge (Congress), Sitaram Yechury (CPM), Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Tariq Anwar (Nationalist Congress Party), Sharad Yadav and K C Tyagi (Janata Dal - United) were among the 19 parliamentarians who attended the meeting at the residence of the Home Minister.

The government invited the leaders of the Opposition parties and some allies of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to the briefing ahead of Parliament's monsoon session commencing on Monday.

China's PLA soldiers and construction personnel came to Doklam Plateau along the disputed Sino-Bhutan boundary on June 16 and started building a motorable road, brushing aside protests by Royal Bhutanese Army personnel deployed in a nearby camp. Indian Army personnel from Doka La camp went to the spot on June 18 and stopped the PLA personnel from constructing the road.

Indian Army intervened as the road would have posed a serious security risk to Siliguri Corridor – the link between north-eastern states of India and the rest of the country.

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