Ahead of NSA Doval's visit, is China relenting on Doklam dispute?

China will protect border with India 'at all costs'

Doval's visit is being watched closely, particularly his likely bilateral meeting with China's state councillor Yang Jiechi with whom he could discuss the ongoing standoff in Doklam.

The BRICS member states (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) will discuss issues like counter-terrorism and cyber-security as a run-up to the summit that will be held in Xiamen city in September.

Yang separately exchanged views with the three senior representatives on bilateral relations, global and regional issues and multilateral affairs, and set forth China's position on bilateral issues and major problems, the report said, without giving further details. Apart from the border dispute at Sikkim's Doklam area, Doval is expected to raise India's concerns over China's Belt Road Initiative, in which it has refused to participate.

Yang also separately met his counterparts from South Africa and Brazil, Xinhua reported. The Chinese PLA personnel had started construction of the road two days ago brushing aside protests from the soldiers of Royal Bhutanese Army. China has claimed that the road construction was well within its territory.

V K Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs, told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that India was engaged with China through diplomatic channels to maintain "peace and tranquillity" in accordance with various bilateral agreements, Memorandums of Understanding, protocols and joint statements of 1993, 1996, 2003, 2005, 2012 and 2013.

Doval is in Beijing to attend a two-day BRICS security summit but the focus has been on his bilateral interactions with the Chinese leadership against the backdrop of the standoff and intense speculation on whether the two sides would begin a conversation to ease tensions, if not resolve the impasse.

Mr Doval will also call on Chinese President Xi Jinping tomorrow along with fellow top security officials of the BRICS countries.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has stated its precondition of "meaningful dialogue", which is that Indian troops should withdraw from Doklam. He added, "The crux now is Indian border troops illegally stayed on China's territory".

"The recent border issue between the two countries shows a lack of strategic trust on the Indian side", Xinhua said.

Last week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told Parliament that both sides should first pull back their troops for any talks to take place, favouring a peaceful resolution of the border standoff.

China is giving signs of lowering its belligerence towards India ahead of the visit.

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