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Gutam Bambawale to take charge as new Indian envoy to China tomorrow

Sunday, Nov 19, 2017,17:38 IST By anju A A A

Beijing | India’s new ambassador to China Gautam Bambawale arrived here today to take up his position.

Bambawale, a seasoned diplomat who till recently served as high commissioner to Pakistan and earlier as envoy to Bhutan, will take charge tomorrow.

A 1984-batch Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, Bambawale succeeded Vijay Gokhale who took over as Secretary (Economic Relations) at the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

A deft hand on Sino-India relations, Bambawale earlier handled the China desk at the MEA which also included relations with Japan, China, South Korea, Mongolia and North Korea.

A Mandarin speaker, he has also served as the deputy chief of mission of the Indian Embassy in Beijing earlier.

His arrival here comes at a time when India and China are trying to put behind the Dokalam standoff, and work on a “forward-looking” approach in their ties.

For the first time after the 73-day standoff, the two countries held their border consultation and coordination mechanism meeting here two days ago during which they reviewed the situation in all sectors of their border and exchanged views on confidence building measures and military contacts.

The 10th round of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) was held in Beijing on November 17.

The India-China border dispute covers the 3488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC). While China claims Arunachal Pradesh as Southern Tibet, India asserts that the dispute covers Aksai Chin area which was occupied by China during the 1962 war.

Bambawale is taking charge ahead of plans by both countries to begin a high-level dialogue next month, which will be the first after the Dokalam standoff as well as commencement of the second five-year term of President Xi Jinping.

Xi began his second term in office following the endorsement by the once-in-five-years Congress of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) here last month.

Officials say Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will travel to New Delhi in the second week of next month to take part in the Russia-India-China (RIC) dialogue mechanism during which he was also expected to hold talks his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj and meet the top Indian leadership.

It will be followed by the 20th round of India-China border talks headed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi also to be held in New Delhi.

Both Doval and Yang are designated as Special Representatives who are also mandated to discuss all issues related to India-China relations.