Rahul Gandhi meets Chinese, Bhutanese envoys amid Chinese aggression

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is reported to have secretly met envoys of China and Bhutan at the height of the ongoing Sino-Indian border tension in Doklam, a move that th3e Congress party has failed to explain.

The Congress vice-president met Luo Zhaohui over the weekend though the Congress kept the place and time of the meeting secret.

After keeping the meeting secret for days, Congress media head Randeep Surjewala opened up and admitted that the meeting indeed took place and said Gandhi also met the Bhutan ambassador to India.

The party, however, downplayed the meeting and did not specify its venue or time.

Surjewala termed it a "courtesy call" and said envoys of G5, as well as neighbouring countries, keep meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the vice-president from time to time.

"Be it the Chinese ambassador (Luo Zhaohui) or Bhutanese ambassador (Vetsop Namgyel) or former national security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, Rahul Gandhi met all three of them. Nobody should try to sensationalise such normal courtesy calls to term them an event like the sources of the ministry of external affairs are attempting to do," he said.

Surjewala said Rahul and other opposition leaders are "fully aware of our national interests" and are concerned about the "grave situation" on the Indo-Chinese border as well as "the situation arising in Bhutan as also in Sikkim".

Some media reports, meanwhile, said the Chinese embassy today posted the information of Gandhi meeting Zhaohui on its website but later retracted it.

Earlier in the day, the Congress had denied media reports as "fake news" that Rahul Gandhi met a Chinese envoy Luo Zhaohui amid the China-India border standoff at Doklam in Sikkim.

China and India have been engaged in the standoff in the Doklam area near the Bhutan tri-junction for the past three weeks after a Chinese Army's construction party attempted to build a road.

Doka La is part of Bhutan, which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region.