China rules out bilateral talks between Modi, Xi

07-07-2017
DH

The two leaders will attend the G20 summit in the German city of Hamburg on Friday and Saturday, but Beijing said the “atmosphere” was “not right” for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines. 

Delhi said no meeting had ever been scheduled between the two leaders.

With the face-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers in western Bhutan continuing, speculation was rife that Modi and Xi may hold a bilateral meeting in Hamburg to find a way to resolve the situation. 

But on Thursday, an official of the Chinese foreign ministry told journalists in Beijing the atmosphere was not conducive.

The two leaders will not only attend the G20 summit but will also take part in an informal meeting of BRICS (a bloc comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in Hamburg.

Pull-aside interaction
There was speculation they would have a brief “pull-aside” interaction on the sidelines of the BRICS meeting.

Xi reached Berlin on Wednesday for a state visit to Germany. He travelled to Hamburg on Thursday. Modi also reached Hamburg on Thursday after concluding his visit to Israel.

Modi’s bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the G20 summit are with leaders of Argentina, Canada, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, the UK and Vietnam, according to Gopal Baglay, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs. His statement came shortly after media reported the Chinese official ruling out the possibility of a Modi-Xi meeting in Hamburg.
Stand-off on border 

China and India have been engaged in a stand-off in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan tri-junction for three weeks after a Chinese army construction party attempted to build a road.

Doka La is the Indian name for the region Bhutan recognises as Dokalam. China claims it as part of its Donglang region.

China reiterated its position on Thursday during a briefing by foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

“India can immediately withdraw the border troops to the Indian side of the boundary to uphold the peace and tranquillity of the China and India border areas,” he said.

Pulling back the troops “is the pre-condition for any meaningful peace talks between the two sides”, he told a media briefing.

China’s state-run media had on Wednesday quoted Chinese analysts as saying Beijing would be forced to use a “military way” to end the stand-off if India refused to heed its “historical lessons”.

Modi and Xi had met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s summit at Astana in Kazakhstan on June 9. 

Since that was just a few weeks ago, neither Delhi nor Beijing had sought a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

Asked about Indian Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre’s remarks that the stand-off in Sikkim could be resolved diplomatically, and Chinese soldiers should leave Bhutanese territory to reduce tension, Shuang said, “We noted the statement.”

“We have said many times that the illegal entry of Indian border troops at the defined section and mutually recognised boundary is different in nature from previous frictions at the undefined part of the boundary,” Shuang said.

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