Doklam standoff: US asks India, China to resolve issues through 'direct dialogue'

16 August 2017

With China continuing its provocative actions across the border, opening up new fronts to needle India, the United States has asked both countries to resolve their differences through 'direct dialogue.'

In the latest provocation from Beijing, Chinese troops on Tuesday tried to intrude into the North Bank of Pangong Lake in Ladakh and later resorted to stone pelting at the Indian forces when they were pushed back.

Indian and Chinese forces have already been locked in an over two-month-long standoff at Doklam and Nathu La with China demanding a unilateral withdrawal by Indian troops  and threatening military action if New Delhi doesn't.

''We are encouraging both parties to sit down and have a direct dialogue,'' State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told media persons.

The advice comes amidst increasing provocations by China on the border. Indian troops on Monday resisted an attempt by Chinese soldiers to enter Indian territory along the banks of famous Pangong lake in Ladakh (See:  Chinese troops hurl stones at Indian Army in Ladakh region).

The latest skirmish on the Ladakh front comes at a time when India and China are locked in a face-off in the Doklam area of the Sikkim sector for well over 50 days.

''We are encouraging both parties to sit down and have a direct dialogue,'' State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told media persons.

Nauert was responding to questions on the skirmish between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh and continued standoff in Doklam area.

Meanwhile, China has vehemently rejected reports suggesting that it had offered a compromise to India under which it showed willingness to move its troops 100 meters back in Doklam area after India sought the pullback of Chinese troops by 250 metres.

A spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry told China Daily that there was no truth in the report and added that China will not trade its territorial sovereignty under any circumstances.

Indian and Chinese armies also avoided their ceremonial meeting on the Independence Day at the strategic Nathu La border amid the continued standoff at Doklam, but personnel from two sides exchanged sweets.

The Army and ITBP personnel informally exchanged  sweets at Nathu La, barely 25 km from Doklam where the two armies have been face-to-face for over two months now, Army sources said.

The Indian Army also celebrated the occasion by distributing sweets to the local people.

Sikkim shares international borders with China, Nepal and Bhutan. It shares a 220.7 km border with China, 95.6 km with Nepal and 32 km with Bhutan, and is connected to the country through a narrow 27 km stretch of land known as the chicken's neck.

Speaking at the day's main function in Gangtok, chief minister Pawan K Chamling said the location of the state shows its strategic importance for the unity and integrity of the nation.

"Our people are like unpaid soldiers defending our motherland. Unbounded peace and harmony for people living in the border states are great assets for the nation.

"I am pleased to say that the state government of Sikkim and every Sikkimese citizen stand solidly behind the central government to safeguard the integrity and sovereignty of our great nation," he added.

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