India, China hold border talks, hope for stronger ties


New Delhi : India and China Friday began two-day talks here Friday to find “a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution” to their complex boundary dispute and hoped the discussions would further strengthen their “strategic partnership”.

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The Indian delegation at the 13th round of boundary talks is headed by National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, while the Chinese team is led by China’s State Counselor and Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Dai Bingguo.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, a former ambassador to Beijing, and officials of the external affairs ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) were also part of the Indian delegation.

Besides Dai, the Chinese delegation had Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei and officials of the defence ministry and department of boundary and ocean affairs.

Dai’s visit to India is the first high-level visit from China after the United Progressive Alliance formed a new government in May after winning the general elections.

The talks will focus on devising a framework that will enable the two countries to delineate the final boundary between them.

“The government attaches high priority to our relations with China. We are not only neighbours, but we also enjoy a strategic and cooperative partnership,” Narayanan said as the two sides began the delegation-level talks.

Narayanan said he was confident the discussions would lead to “further strengthening” of “the multi-faceted relationship” between the two countries.

China is willing to make joint efforts with India in the spirit of mutual understanding and accommodation to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the issue, a spokeswoman of the Chinese foreign ministry said in Beijing Friday.

The two special representatives need to bridge the gap on the interpretation of political parameters and guiding principles finalised during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in 2005.

India accuses China of illegally occupying 43,180 sq km of territory in Jammu and Kashmir, including 5,180 sq km illegally ceded by Islamabad to Beijing in 1963. Beijing accuses New Delhi of occupying some 90,000 sq km of Chinese territory, most of it in Arunachal Pradesh.

The 13th rounds of talks are taking place against the backdrop of China’s renewed assertions over Arunachal Pradesh, India’s northeastern state that is claimed in entirety by both countries and recent strains in bilateral ties due to Beijing’s perceived hostile posturing on issues affecting Indian interests.

In March this year, China tried to block a development loan for India at the Manila-based Asian Development Bank on grounds that part of it was meant for Arunachal Pradesh. India has also not forgotten Beijing’s attempt to block a waiver by the Nuclear Suppliers Group that cleared global nuclear trade for New Delhi last year.

India and China, that fought a bitter war in 1962 and are now rapidly expanding their economic ties, had adopted the special representatives route in 2003 to resolve the border issue from a political perspective after diplomatic negotiations failed to yield results.