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China ready to break new ground on border talks with India

June 28, 2013 14:04 IST

China said it was ready to "break new ground" with India to resolve the boundary dispute as the Special Representatives of the two countries held 16th round of border talks to find a solution to the vexed issue.

"I stand ready to work with you to build on the work of our predecessors and break new ground to strive for the settlement of the China-India boundary question and to make greater progress in the China India strategic an cooperative partnership in the new period," newly appointed Chinese Special Representative Yang Jiechi said in Beijing.

Former foreign minister Yang, who took over from the long-standing Chinese Special Representative Dai Bingguo, welcomed his Indian counterpart National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, saying "the two Special Representatives have a lofty mission and heavy responsibilities".

This is the first meeting of the border talks after the new leadership took over in China in March.

India asserts that the dispute covered about 4,000 km, while China claims that it confined to about 2,000 km to the area of Arunachal Pradesh, which it refers as Southern Tibet.

"First of all let me warmly welcome you to come to China for the 16th round of the Special Representatives meeting on the China-India boundary question," he said, stating that "over the years you have made important contribution to the growth of China-India relations in various capacities."

"You and I have known each other for a long time. We are very familiar with each other and established a good working relationship and personal friendship," Yang said. He also complimented Dai for the work done in the last decade.

Yang recalled the recent visit of Premier Li Keqiang to India stating that it was an important event coming after the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Durban in March.

Li's visit "injected fresh and strong momentum into the further development of our bilateral relationship," he said.

"The China-India relationship has developed good momentum of development. The Special Representatives meeting is an important exchange and cooperation mechanism between our two countries," he said.

On his part, Menon expressed his pleasure to hold talks with Yang. "You are an old friend and in India you are known for your various contributions you have made to the positive development of our bilateral relations," Menon said.

"As you have said we are meeting at a moment when India- China relations have achieved a momentum and are moving in the right direction. It is our conviction that we are at a moment of strategic opportunity for this relationship," Menon said.

During his two-day stay in Beijing, Menon is due to meet Premier Li and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Menon's talks with Chinese leaders is also expected to focus on recent intrusion by Chinese forces in India's DepsangValley in Ladakh region.

The border talks are currently in second stage of the three stage process which has been agreed in the beginning.

The first stage was to do the guiding principles which resulted in 2005 agreement on the political parameters and guiding principles for boundary settlement.

The second stage is aimed at working out a framework for boundary settlement. Once a framework was in place the countries will proceed to actual business of drawing boundary.

Besides border negotiations, the Special Representatives are designated to discuss all most all aspects of the relations between the two countries which meant that a host of issues from river waters, trade deficit as well as strategic issues including mutual concerns over their neighbiourhood policies were expected to figure in the talks.

The deteriorating situation in Afghainstan ahead of US troops withdrawl was also expected to come up.

China, in surprise move, had earlier held talks with India on how to deal with the Afghan situation considering its own concerns over the impact in its volatile Muslim Uygur majority Xinjiang province.

China held similar talks with Russia and Pakistan.

Image: Chinese soldiers guard the Nathu La mountain pass, between Tibet and Sikkim

Photograph: Desomnd Boyland/Reuters

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