India, Bhutan hold talks to increase defence cooperation

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India strongly opposed construction as it would have impacted its overall security interests. The India-China face-off was resolved following several rounds of talks…reports Asian Lite News

Against the backdrop of China rapidly improving its infrastructure in Doklam region, which resulted in a military standoff in 2017, India and Bhutan on Tuesday reviewed the entire spectrum of their bilateral defence ties during talks here between visiting Bhutan Army Chief Operations Officer Lt General Batoo Tshering and Army chief General Manoj Pande.

The talks took place in the backdrop of China rapidly improving its infrastructure in Doklam region which saw a military stand off between India and China in 2017.

The two chiefs focused on various key dimensions of India-Bhutan defence cooperation and reviewed the evolving regional security scenario. Tshering’s visit to New Delhi comes three months after Pande travelled to Bhutan.

“General Manoj Pande #COAS extended a warm welcome to Lieutenant General Batoo Tshering, Chief Operations Officer, Royal Bhutan Army and discussed ways to strengthen the #DefenceCooperation between the two Armies,” the Army tweeted. Earlier, the Bhutanese chief laid a wreath at the National War Memorial.  He was also accorded a guard of honour in the South Block lawns.

The Doklam plateau is considered an important area for India’s strategic interest.  The Indian and Chinese armies were locked in a 73-day stand-off at the Doklam tri-junction in 2017 after China tried to extend a road in an area that Bhutan claimed belonged to it.  India strongly opposed construction as it would have impacted its overall security interests. The India-China face-off was resolved following several rounds of talks.

In October last year, Bhutan and China signed an agreement on a “three-step roadmap” to expedite negotiations to resolve their festering boundary dispute. Bhutan shares an over 400-km-long border with China and two countries have held over 24 rounds of boundary talks in a bid to resolve dispute.

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