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PM opts for silence on Summit with Chinese Prez: Doklam issue is resolved, says Sushma

8/1/2018

New Delhi, Amid height of political confrontation between treasury bench and the Opposition over NRC issue in Assam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the Lok Sabha proceedings on Wednesday but chose to remain silent when he was repeatedly questioned on the maiden informal Summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Despite specific plea by Trinamool Congress MP Sugata Bose and Congress members Mallikarjun Kharge, K C Venugopal and Jyotiraditya Scindia that Prime Minister should answer the queries on the first informal Summit between two leaders saying External Affairs Minister was not present there, Mr Modi maintained silence smiling occasionally. Ms Swaraj did all the talking. The Minister dismissed such a suggestion, saying she was capable of answering all questions relating to the Wuhan summit and maintained: "I am capable of answering the questions....because I had gone to China and interacted with the Chinese Foreign Minister to prepare ground for the first informal Summit". "......irrespective of whether I was present there or not at Wuhan. I am fully aware of what was happening there," she said. Te Prime Minister sat patiently smiling occasionally and at one point of time was seen interacting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who sits next to Mr Modi. The Trinamool member Mr Bose said he was asking questions specifically on Doklam as the Chinese army is said to have moved "uncomfortably closed" to Siliguri corridor in West Bengal. But after Mr Swaraj's reply, the Jadavpur lawmaker, said - "I am happy to learn that the Doklam issue has been resolved by diplomatic efforts". "Wahan til bhar ka parivartan nahi hae (There is not an inch of change in status quo on ground)," Ms Swaraj said amid thumping of desks by treasury bench. Replying to supplementary queries from Mr Bose, the External Affairs Minister said - "I am making this statement in the House with utmost responsibility that the Doklam issue (with China) has been resolved by diplomatic maturity". She also said the maiden informal Summit between Mr Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan in China on April 27-18 was highly successful. She said the Summit was successful as it could achieve three major milestones. "It could help create a right atmosphere for diplomatic efforts between two countries, it could bring about mutual understanding between two leaders and also build up mutual trust between the two," Ms Swaraj said. "As an innovative format for leadership-level diplomatic engagement, the informal Summit enabled two leaders (Modi and Xi Jinping) to hold direct, free and candid exchange of issues of over-arching long term and strategic significance without the constraints of protocol and pre-set agenda," Ms Swaraj said. To a question from Sugata Bose whether Doklam issue was raised, the Minister clarified, "It was not meant to discuss specific topics". She also pointed out besides Wuhan informal Summit, PM Modi and the Chinese President also met at Johannesburg on the sidelines of BRICS Summit in July and earlier also on the sidelines of SCO Summit at Qingdao in China. Ms Swaraj said the Chinese President has accepted Prime Minister's invitation for visiting India for the second informal Summit at a mutually convenient time in 2019. India and China were locked in a face-off in the Doklam area around Sikkim sector last year.To a query from lone Sikkim MP P D Rai on the Chinese foreign minister visiting Bhutan, Ms Swaraj clarified that the boundary dispute between Bhutan and China was strictly a matter between those two countries. "Our concern was related only to the tri-junction area (India-Bhutan-China)," she said adding the issue was resolved by 'diplomatic maturity'. “I can assure the House that there has been no change in status quo at Doklam since August 28, 2017," Ms Swaraj added.

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