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India, China hopeful as border talks begin

National Security Adviser MK Narayanan leads Indian side while Chinese side is led by their Dy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2007 15:56 IST

India and China began on Wednesday a new round of border talks aimed at resolving a long-running Himalayan frontier dispute at the centre of lingering mistrust between the two Asian giants.

The Indian team for the two-day talks will be led by MK Narayanan, the country's national security adviser, while the Chinese side is headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo, India's foreign ministry said.

Any progress in the dialogue will be announced on Thursday after talks end, a foreign ministry official said.

Helped by growing trade links, ties between the Asian powers have improved in the last few years after decades of frosty relations following a brief border war in 1962 which India lost.

"Our relations with our neighbours, including China ... are poised for a positive transformation," India's Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told foreign policy experts on Tuesday.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular news briefing China hoped progress would be made.

"We think this is an extremely important meeting and is a concrete step towards putting into effect the consensus reached by our two leaders to, as soon as possible, push the border talks forward," he said.

India and China have been pushing economic ties despite their border dispute. A visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to India in November focused on boosting two-way trade, expected to double to $40 billion by 2010.

But both sides have made little progress in overcoming deep differences over their 3,500 km (2,200 mile) frontier, despite several rounds of talks over the past decade.

Tibetan exiles plan later on Wednesday to protest in the capital against Dai's visit and the border talks.

India remains suspicious of rival neighbour Pakistan's close strategic ties with Beijing, and disputes Chinese rule over 38,000 square km (15,000 square miles) of barren, icy and uninhabited land on the Tibetan plateau, seized by China in 1962.

For its part, China does not recognise the remote, sparsely populated state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of India and claims its mountainous district of Tawang once belonged to Tibet.