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Doklam Standoff: Nepal Chooses to Sit on the Fence

CC0 / / Kathmandu, Nepal (File)
Kathmandu, Nepal (File) - Sputnik International
Indian experts say Nepal's stand reaffirms the country’s traditional approach to foreign policy; however, the upcoming Nepal visit of Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang is to be closely watched.

Kathmandu, Nepal. File photo - Sputnik International
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New Delhi (Sputnik) Nepal has made it clear that it will not take any sides in the ongoing standoff between India and China over the Doklam region. Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara said Nepal wants the two neighbors to use “peaceful diplomatic means” to resolve the issue.

"Nepal will not get dragged into this or that side in the border dispute. Some media reports are attempting to drag us in favor of one or the other side, but I want to make it clear that we have not taken any side in this matter," said Mahara.

Mahara’s statement comes ahead of Nepal's Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s visit to India from 23 to 27 August 2017. Before that, India's Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj is expected to hold bilateral talks with the Nepalese leadership during her stay in Kathmandu to attend a meeting of a regional grouping. Swaraj will arrive in Kathmandu on 14 August.

Meanwhile, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang is scheduled to visit Nepal on August 14. Nepal has claimed that Wang's visit is development-centric, and should not be linked with the Doklam standoff.

"Vice Premier Wang is considered an expert on South Asian affairs and his meeting is coming ahead of PM Deuba's India visit. It is not a coincidence. In recent years, China has invested a lot of political and economic capital in Nepal, which cannot be out of charity," Dr Smruti Pattanaik, Research Fellow, at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, told Sputnik.

China is expanding its footprints in Nepal through investing in physical infrastructure as well as ramping up trade ties, she adds. And India needs to watch out that while furthering its multi-layered ties with Nepal.

India and China are locked in a tense standoff since June this year after India’s border forces allegedly blocked a Chinese patrol party from surveying the Doklam area for construction of the road. Doklam has been depicted as part of Bhutan in the Bhutanese maps since 1961, but it is also claimed by China. Since the tri-junction is of immense strategic importance to China and India, both countries have stationed their armed forces there.

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