India and China agreed on Tuesday to keep peace and tranquillity along their disputed border, as top delegates from the two Asian giants met in New Delhi in an attempt to create a framework for resolving vast territorial disputes that have simmered for decades.
In the first boundary talks since the Narendra Modi government came to power, national security adviser Ajit Doval discussed with Chinese state councillor Yang Jiechi the intent to keep the boundary issue in check so it doesn’t disrupt overall ties, sources said.
“Both sides agreed to take necessary steps to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas which is a pre-requisite for continued growth of bilateral relations,” the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said.
The 18th round of boundary talks that began on Monday come ahead of Modi’s expected trip to China in May and signal a thaw after Beijing lodged an official protest when the PM visited Arunachal Pradesh last month.
China lays claim to about 90,000 sq km in Arunachal Pradesh, which it calls southern Tibet, while India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometres of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau.
“I want to emphasise that the early settlement of the boundary question is in the fundamental interest of the two countries,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in Beijing.
Both sides said they were committed to a three-step process to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually-acceptable resolution of the border issue and, while expressing satisfaction at the growing interaction between the border forces, they agreed to further expand such contacts as a confidence-building measure.
“The Special Representatives continued the discussions to reach a mutually acceptable Framework for resolution of the Boundary Question on the basis of the Agreement on the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles,” the MEA statement said.
The special representatives also exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest, including a new visa regime, and agreed to enhance their consultations on counterterrorism, maritime security, climate change, reform of the United Nations and civil nuclear energy cooperation.
Yang later called on Modi and, according to reports, briefed him about the preparations for his China visit.
A statement from the prime minister’s office quoted Modi telling Yang he was looking forward to the trip and hoping it will have “concrete outcomes”.