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Doklam Standoff: China Remains Defiant; US Keeping 'Close and Careful' Watch

State Department Spokesman Heather Nauert said, "This is a situation that we are following closely and carefully.I'd have to refer you to the governments of India and China for more information on that".

Updated:July 21, 2017, 10:19 AM IST
New Delhi: The Donald Trump administration has said it is "closely and carefully" watching the Doklam standoff between India and China, urging the two Asian giants to engage in direct dialogue.

"This is a situation that we are following closely and carefully. I'd have to refer you to the governments of India and China for more information on that," State Department spokesman Heather Nauert told reporters.

She said Indian and China were talking on the issue. "(And) they're going to talk to one another," she said, referring to the visit of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval to Beijing for a meeting of the NSAs from BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — on July 27-28.

"We would encourage them to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions," Nauert said.

India has said it is ready for talks with China but it must first pull back its troops to end the tense standoff in the Sikkim sector, and called for a "peaceful resolution" of the border issues between the countries.

China responded that the diplomatic channels with India remained "unimpeded" but reiterated that the withdrawal of the Indian troops from Doklam area is a "precondition" for any meaningful dialogue.

The stand was repeated by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang on Friday. Asked to confirm if India and China are holding talks to prevent an escalation of tensions, Lu said, “We have said multiple times that the facts and nature of the incident on the Sikkim section of the China-India boundary is very clear, which is that the Indian border troops illegally trespassed into China's territory.”

“We keep saying that the diplomatic channels between China and India are unimpeded, but we also reiterate that the withdrawal of Indian border troops who illegally crossed into China's territory is the prerequisite and basis for any meaningful dialogue between the two sides.”

Chinese and Indian soldiers have been locked in a face-off in Doklam area in the southernmost part of Tibet for over a month after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road, fearing it may allow China to cut India's access to its northeastern states.

India has conveyed to China that the construction of the road would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for New Delhi.

(With PTI inputs)

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