China has evinced interest in establishing diplomatic ties with Bhutan as the two countries held 24th round of boundary talks here to resolve their border dispute.
China hopes to work with Bhutan for early establishment of diplomatic relations and solution to boundary issues, Chinese vice president Li Yuanchao said when the visiting Bhutan's foreign minister Damcho Dorji called on him yesterday.
Dorji is in China to attend the 24th round of boundary talks.
"China and Bhutan have yet to establish diplomatic ties but have always respected each other and treated each other as equals," state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Li as saying.
Dorji said Bhutan expects to strengthen cooperation with China in various fields and looks forward to settling the boundary issue at an early date, the report said.
China has settled border differences with 12 of the 14 land neighbours with boundary disputes pending with India and Bhutan, which had close relations.
India and China have held 19 round of Special Representatives talks to resolve their bounder disputes.
Strategically placed between India and Tibet, Thimphu remained aloof since 1951 after China took firm control of Tibet, which formed borders with Bhutan.
Relations between Beijing and Thimphu remained traditionally strained following border dispute while the two countries maintained friendly exchanges and contacts in recent years.
In a surprise move in 2012, then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his Bhutanese counterpart Jigmi Y Thinley met on the sidelines of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development at Rio De Janeiro and expressed their willingness to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries and discussed measures to speed up efforts resolve border dispute and to step up bilateral ties.
But Thimphu did not pursue the move apparently to avoid creating any misunderstanding in its close ties with India.
China and Bhutan, however, continue their exchanges with visits by high level diplomats besides a dialogue to resolve the border dispute.