Bhutan and China Agree on Fast-Track Plan to Resolve Long-Standing Border Disputes

Bhutan and China Agree on Fast-Track Plan to Resolve Long-Standing Border Disputes

Bhutan and China have reached an agreement to expedite the implementation of a Three-Step Road Map in order to resolve long-standing discussions between the two nations. The joint statement, released by Bhutan's Foreign Ministry, details the outcome of the 13th Expert Group Meeting (EGM) held in Beijing, co-chaired by officials from both countries. The talks primarily focused on addressing disputes in the Doklam region and the Jakarlung and Pasamlung valleys.

One key outcome was the establishment of a Joint Technical Team on the delimitation of the Bhutan-China boundary, which held its first meeting during the EGM. Both sides also pledged to maintain regular Expert Group Meetings and continue communication on boundary talks. The meeting was characterized by a warm and friendly atmosphere, reflecting the strong ties of friendship and cooperation between Bhutan and China. This development marks significant progress in the ongoing negotiations between Bhutan and China, which have been ongoing since 1984.

The establishment of a Joint Technical Team indicates a commitment from both countries to work together towards resolving their boundary disputes. The Three-Step Road Map, outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding, will serve as a framework for expediting the negotiations. The agreement between Bhutan and China holds particular significance for India, as the disputed areas in Bhutan's West are near the India-China-Bhutan trijunction. Bhutan's Prime Minister, Lotay Tshering, has reinforced the importance of India's involvement in resolving issues related to the trijunction. He emphasized that the demarcation of the Bhutan-China boundary would be addressed separately, while the trijunction point would require the inclusion of India.

While Bhutan does not have direct diplomatic relations with China, the friendly and constructive atmosphere of the Expert Group Meeting reflects the positive relationship between the two countries. Both sides expressed a willingness to maintain momentum in their discussions and to hold future meetings as soon as possible. The successful resolution of boundary issues between Bhutan and China will contribute to regional stability and further strengthen the ties of friendship and cooperation between the two nations.

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