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New Delhi, India — (AP) A newly elected leader of the newly independent Bhutanese state of Bhutan says the country is seeking to establish a new “buddhism republic” on the border with China.

Rong Tsering has made the comments as his country prepares to hold elections next month.

A Buddhist and former head of the Tibetan government in exile in India, he was elected to the upper house of parliament in Bhutan’s capital, Nha Trang, last week.

He has been accused by Tibetan nationalists of wanting to establish Tibetan autonomy in the Himalayan country.

Rongs recent comments came as China announced it had taken “all necessary measures” to ensure the safety of its border with Bhutan and that the “peaceful resolution of the dispute” between the two countries is “an essential prerequisite” for any future peace treaty.

Rang Tsering’s election victory came amid increasing tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

Tensions have been simmering over a string of incidents between Chinese border guards and Indian forces.

The standoff, which has seen Indian forces shoot and kill at least 14 Chinese border security forces and a number of Indian civilians, has caused concern in Bhutons capital, Jammu and Kashmir.