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China, Bhutan Resume Border Talks a Year After Doklam Spat Involving India

© AFP 2023 / DIPTENDU DUTTAIn this photograph taken on July 10, 2008 an Indian soldier stands guard at the ancient Nathu La border crossing between India and China
In this photograph taken on July 10, 2008 an Indian soldier stands guard at the ancient Nathu La border crossing between India and China - Sputnik International
China and Bhutan share a 470 kilometer long border. Territorial disputes have been a source of potential conflict, the most contested area being the Doklam plateau, where China allegedly tried to build a road last year, resulting in military intervention by India, Bhutan’s all-weather friend.

New Delhi (Sputnik): China and Bhutan have discussed the border issue at length during a three day trip of Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou to the Himalayan nation, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which has claimed that China holds its traditional friendship with Bhutan in high regard.

"Both sides should continue to promote border talks, abide by the principles and consensus already reached, and jointly protect peace and tranquillity in the border region to create positive conditions for a final resolution," the Chinese Foreign Ministry statement cited Kong as saying.

READ MORE: Chinese Transgressions Result of Differing Perceptions of Border: Indian Def Min

This was the first major visit by a Chinese official to Bhutan following last year's prolonged standoff between the armies of India and China on the Doklam plateau — a disputed territory claimed by both China and Bhutan.

Chinese soldier (L) gesturing next to an Indian soldier at the Nathu La border crossing between India and China in India's northeastern Sikkim state. (File) - Sputnik International
China Building Trenches and Helipads at Doklam - Indian Defense Minister
China and Bhutan do not have formal diplomatic relations and China's ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, accompanied Kong, the ministry added.

In the past, China and Bhutan had concluded 24 rounds of talks on the boundary issues, but following the Doklam conflict, the talks came to a grinding halt.  

Earlier this year, Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay praised his country's relation with China in his sixth and last "state of the union" speech. Parliamentary elections in Bhutan are due later this year.

READ MORE: India-China Bonhomie is Back on Track — Indian Army Chief

Beijing proposed a land-swap deal to Bhutan in 1996, under which Thimphu would get approximately 764 square kilometers of land in the middle and western sector of the border in exchange of 100 square kilometers land in the strategically important Doklam plateau, which serves as a tri-junction of China, Bhutan and India.   

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