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India, China making steady progress on border row: NSA

Source: PTI
November 30, 2010 21:18 IST
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Ahead of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit, India and China on Tuesday concluded their 14th round of special representatives border talks, with both sides agreeing to seek a "fair deal" as they made "steady progress" on a framework to resolve the long-running boundary dispute.

National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, who held three rounds of talks with his Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo, said a steady progress was being made with discussions focused on working out a framework to resolve the border dispute. They discussed the whole gamut of issues bedeviling the two countries, including the resumption of defence exchanges put on hold by India following denial of visa to a top Indian Army commander B S Jaswal.

Menon declined to go into details of the progress made during the border talks, citing sensitivities involved. He said details could not be revealed as the talks are an ongoing progress but it is suffice to say that a steady progress was being made with discussions focused on working out a framework to resolve the dispute.

During an interaction with the Indian media in Beijing, Menon said he was "satisfied with the quality of interaction" on all issues to make Wen's visit a "landmark" one in a bid to take the bilateral ties forward.

However, he declined to discuss the Chinese response to India's demand to roll back stapled visas for residents of Jammu and Kashmir as well as resumption of defence exchanges by India, saying all issues were discussed. The NSA also had a fruitful meeting with Chinese vice president Xi Jinping.

A statement issued by the Chinese foreign ministry said the border talks ended with a "joint pledge to seek a fair and reasonable solution acceptable to both sides".

Summing up the two days talks, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Hong Lei told mediapersons, "China is committed to settling the border dispute through friendly consultations and is ready to work with the Indian side to safeguard peace and stability in border areas."

Menon said Wen's visit to India would take place in the middle of next month and the Chinese premier would proceed to Pakistan after the tour. On the border dispute, he endorsed the Chinese statement, saying both sides agreed that a fair and a reasonable solution should be found, which will be politically acceptable to both the countries. He could discuss all issues with Dai since the last round of the special representatives talks have been expanded to include all bilateral matters.

India and China share 4,000-km of border. The focus of the dispute is mainly confined to Aaksai Chin in Ladakh region and Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as southern Tibet.

Menon said peace prevailed across the Sino-Indian borders. Though India and China began discussions to resolve the border difference since 1980, the process got an impetus after the two countries agreed to hold talks by designated special representatives.

The two countries also signed agreements in 1993 and 1996 to maintain peace and stability in the border areas besides inking a political guiding principle on demarcation of the boundary in 2005.

Recalling a host of high-level meetings, including the one between Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Wen in Hanoi last month, Menon said the interaction showed there was "little rigidity" on both sides to discuss sensitive issues.

Earlier this month, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna held candid talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi at Wuhan. It was followed by strategic talks between foreign secretary Nirupama Rao and Chinese vice foreign minister Zhang Zhijun in Beijing on November 16.

Chinese vice president Xi, who is set to succeed President Hu Jintao in 2012, praised Menon's role in improving the bilateral ties and expressed the hope that the current round of talks would help narrow down differences.
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