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'Bhutan has no plans to establish diplomatic ties with China'

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Bhutan has no plans to establish diplomatic ties with China
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Thimphu: Bhutan has no plans to establish diplomatic ties with China, a top leader of the ruling party said on Friday, asserting that the country would not host missions of the "Big Five" of the UN.

The ruling Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT)'s officiating president Yeshe Zimbe ruled out any diplomatic relations between Bhutan and China, saying the meeting between outgoing Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley and the then Chinese premier Wen Jiabao at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil last year was just a "courtesy call" and nothing more should be read out of it.

The Rio meeting, on the sidelines of an international meet, was seen by many in India as Bhutan's warming up to China. Many also linked New Delhi's recent decision to withdraw subsidy to kerosene and cooking gas with the meeting.

DPT strategist Rigden Tenzin said meeting between Bhutanese Prime Minister and Chinese leaders was not uncommon and had taken place in the past too but it was surprising why so much hue and cry was created over the Rio meeting.

Tenzin also said if DPT returns to power for the second time, further improving ties with India would be its priority.

"We will not move away from our decision not to host the diplomatic missions of any of the 'Big Five' of the United Nations in Thimphu. Our relations with India are always warm, strong and deep. We were with India, we are with India and we will remain with India," Zimbe said.

Explaining Bhutan's complexity in maintaining relations with its giant neighbours India and China, opposition party PDP's general secretary Sonam Jatsho told PTI, "Our relation with India is very old, deep and unshakable. It is built over the years on the basis of mutual trust, cooperation and help".

"But we have a long border with China too. If China says hello, sometimes, we also have to say hello," Jatsho said.

"I think India understands that," he added, sitting in the People's Democratic Party's office in the heart of the city.

The PDP has criticised DPT government's unsuccessful bid to run for a non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council where the country got only 20 votes out of 193.

There have been much talk in diplomatic circles over Bhutan's opening up of diplomatic relations with 32 countries during the five-year tenure of Thinley's government.

"We will try to remove all irritants from bilateral relations with India if we form the government," Jatsho said.

The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, also known as the Big Five, are China, France, Russia, the UK and the US.

PTI

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