India, China agree to make efforts to end border row
PM said: "We've had differences but peace must be preserved on the borders," adding that special measures were needed to build greater confidence between the two nations. Improving mutual trust with India crucial: Liindia Updated: May 21, 2013 00:44 IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he had agreed with his Chinese counterpart to make a new push to settle a long-running border row, pledging his commitment to "peace and tranquility".
While addressing a joint press conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in New Delhi on Monday, he said: "We've had differences but peace must be preserved on the borders," adding that special measures were needed to build greater confidence between the two nations.
"We agreed that our special representatives will meet soon to continue discussions seeking an early agreement on a framework for a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable boundary settlement," Singh said after talks with Li.
"Peace and tranquility on our border has to be preserved," Singh said.
Li said that the border dispute was a historical hangover and that there was a desire on both sides to resolve it.
"We have established the principles for settling the question," Li said.
"Both sides believe we need to improve the border mechanisms that have been put into place and make them more efficient and appropriately resolve our differences."
Prior to the joint press conference, officials from both the countries signed 8 agreements, including on water, visa, trade, marine and food products.
Earlier, Li pledged to build trust with India and declared that ties between the Asian giants were key to world peace as he visited New Delhi only weeks after a border spat.
Speaking alongside his counterpart Manmohan Singh, Li said China wanted to increase cooperation with India, saying his choice of destination for his first foreign visit showed the importance that Beijing attached to ties with Delhi.
"The purpose of my current visit to India is three-fold -- to increase mutual trust, to intensify cooperation and to face the future," Li said.
"On the basis of deeper mutual trust, our two countries can further deepen our mutual understanding and construct a new type of relations between major countries, promote healthy and sound development of China and India.
"That will be a true blessing for Asia and the world."
Li's visit comes after a flare-up last month in a long-running border dispute between the two countries in a remote Himalayan region.
New Delhi accused Chinese troops of intruding nearly 20 kilometres (12 miles) into Indian-claimed territory, triggering a three-week standoff that was resolved when troops from both sides pulled back.
The Line of Actual Control between the nuclear-armed neighbours has never been formally demarcated, although they have signed accords to maintain peace in the region that was the site of a brief Indo-Chinese war in 1962.
Although Li did not mention the border dispute, he stressed that cooperation between the world's two most populous nations had global ramifications.
"World peace... cannot be a reality without strategic trust between India and China," he said.
After arriving in New Delhi on Sunday afternoon, Li held a first round of talks with Singh in the evening and the two held more detailed discussions on Monday.
Li is also scheduled to meet foreign minister Salman Khurshid, ruling Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi and senior figures from the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party before heading Tuesday to the financial hub, Mumbai.
The border dispute almost led Khurshid to cancel a visit to Beijing before the pullback agreement, despite his insistence that the row should not serve to "destroy" recent diplomatic progress.
Sujit Dutta, a China expert at Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia University, said Beijing could become more assertive in such disputes under its new leadership."As Beijing's new leadership is making a concerted effort to challenge India's territorial assertions, India will have to plan new attempts to bridge the perceptional distances between these two huge neighbours," Dutta said.
Other observers said there was a general acceptance that the border dispute should not be allowed to block progress in other areas.
China is India's second-largest trading partner, with two-way commerce totalling $66.5 billion last year.
Chinese vice commerce minister Jiang Yaoping told reporters last week he was optimistic that the target of reaching $100 billion by 2015 would be met.
But the figure in 2012 was in fact a fall from the $74 billion for 2011 and India is also facing an increasing trade deficit with China that totalled $29 billion in 2012.
Several major roads in the Indian capital have been closed to prevent Tibetan protestors from disrupting the visit while exile groups complained of heavy-handed policing in their neighbourhoods.
"The police has denied us permission to protest in New Delhi and police deployment in Tibetan resident areas has been intensified. They are not allowing young Tibetans to walk in groups," said Tsering Choedup, a regional coordinator for the International Tibet Network.
After wrapping up his visit to India, Li is due to travel to neighbouring Pakistan before heading to Switzerland and Germany.
(With AFP inputs)
First Published: May 20, 2013 10:50 IST