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Ministry of External Affairs junks US leader's Doklam fear

Media reports had earlier attributed quotes to the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells during the Congressional hearing.

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Ministry of External Affairs junks US leader's Doklam fear
File photo of the posts at Doklam
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India on Thursday denied a US Congresswoman's claim that China has "quietly resumed" its activities in Doklam area. Official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) here reiterated that since the disengagement of India and Chinese troops in the Doklam on August 28, 2017, there has been no new development at the face-off site and its vicinity. "The status quo prevails in the area," he asserted.

Media reports had earlier attributed quotes to the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells during the Congressional hearing. But it later appeared that during the hearing Congresswoman Ann Wagner had posed a question to the State Department official, on Beijing's actions in the Himalayan region and compared them with its manoeuvres in the disputed South China Sea. "Although both countries backed down, China has quietly resumed its activities in Doklam and neither Bhutan nor India has sought to dissuade it. China's activities in the Himalayas remind me of its south China Sea policies," Wagner said.

Wells told Wagner and other lawmakers: "I would assess that India is vigorously defending its northern borders and this (the situation at the northern borders) is a subject of concern to India."

Wells said that the US looks to the Indo-Pacific strategy put forward by the Trump administration in light of the 'South China Sea's Strategy', a reference to China's aggressive claims of sovereignty over all of South China Sea.

Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims. "How do we maintain the region to be open, to have maritime security, to not have militarisation that would imperil 70 per cent of global trade?" Wells asked. Wells told Congress that the Trump Administration was supporting India's emergence as a leading global power and a stronger strategic and defense partner.

She said the US was out to enhance interoperability between India and the US to ensure New Delhi can help protect the air and maritime shipping routes that underpin global commerce.

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