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Home > News > Report

No breakthrough expected in
border dispute: Kanwal Sibal

Josy Joseph in New Delhi | June 22, 2003 01:03 IST

India and China do not expect any breakthrough in their border dispute during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to China starting June 22, Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal said on Saturday.

"There is absolutely no expectation on both sides" of a breakthrough on the vexing boundary dispute that led to the 1962 war and remains the key irritant in the bilateral relations between the world's most populated countries, Sibal said.

The boundary dispute has a "very old beginning. We are grappling with it," Sibal said while pointing out that there are mechanisms to resolve the matter.

The Indo-China border is not a continuous one, but spread across three sectors.

An encouraging factor has been the exchange of maps of the central sector, he said. The western and eastern sectors are considered more controversial.

The prime minister would leave for Beijing on Sunday morning accompanied by a high level delegation, including businessmen.

This is the first visit by an Indian prime minister to China in 10 years.

Sibal pointed out that Vajpayee is 'no stranger to China', having been there as foreign minister in 1979, just a couple of years after the two sides re-established diplomatic relations after the 1962 war.

In 1993, Vajpayee visited China as part of a parliamentary delegation. The present visit 'will allow him to see for himself the changes' that China has undergone since then.

During his four-day stay in China, the prime minister will make three important speeches.

There would be two business meets, one in Beijing and the other in Shanghai, with the latter focusing on Information Technology.

During the visit, both countries would sign several bilateral accords, including one to ease visa norms.

The visit and its agenda, with the stress on business, reflect the 'growing diversification' in bilateral relations, Sibal said.

Sibal said bilateral trade had grown by 70 per cent in the first four months of this year, compared to last year.

Conceding that there are several contentious issues, Sibal said the thrust would be on areas in which the two countries could cooperate and on win-win situations. Tibet is not expected to figure on the agenda.

On possible Chinese concerns regarding growing Indo-US ties, Sibal said there was no connection between the two.

He pointed out that US-China bilateral trade is more than India's total global trade.

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