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India-China border talks on June 28, Antony to visit in July

Beijing, June 25: The 16th round of India-China border talks will be held here on June 28 followed by the visit of Defence Minister A K Antony a week later as the two countries set
india china border talks on june 28 antony to...
PTI June 25, 2013 18:26 IST
Beijing, June 25: The 16th round of India-China border talks will be held here on June 28 followed by the visit of Defence Minister A K Antony a week later as the two countries set to resume top level contacts to build on the recent visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to New Delhi.

National Security Advisor and India's Special Representative (SR) for Sino-India border talks, Shivshankar Menon, would hold the border talks with his new Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on June 28-29, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced here today.

"The Special Representatives meeting represents another important high level contact between the two countries following Li's visit to India (last month). "Therefore China pays high attention to the meeting", China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here while announcing Menon's visit.

"The two countries will follow through on the requirements of the leaders of the two countries and maintain the negotiation momentum, safeguard the peace and tranquillity at the border areas, exchange views on bilateral relations as well as major international and regional issues and push for  comprehensive and in-depth development of the bilateral relations", she said.

The relations between the two countries enjoy sound momentum at the moment, she said adding that the two sides maintain effective communication on the boundary issue and the border areas between the two countries are generally stable and peaceful.

This is the first round of border talks which are taking place after China's new leadership headed by President Xi Jinping took over power and also this will be Yang's first border meeting as he replaced Dai Bingguo, who was Beijing's pointman for India for a decade.

Yang, the former Foreign Minister also holds the post of State Councillor, which makes him the country's top diplomat. Also, this is the first time the two SRs are meeting after the unsavoury incident of Chinese troops erecting tents at the Depsang Valley in Ladakh area in April, which sparked offmajor diplomatic crisis between the two countries weeks ahead of Li's visit.

The Chinese troops pulled back following a 20-day standoff and after India conveyed a stern message through its Ambassador S Jaishankar that the incident would seriously impact the relations if it is not resolved. Though the incident figured in the talks between Li and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, it was left to the SRs meeting to discuss it threadbare and come up with solution

"The understanding was that we would ask SRs to reallylead that effort and they will look into the mechanisms, how they work, what were the shortcomings, how this happened. And if they have suggestions to make, I think both governments
will look at it", Jaishankar told media in New Delhi after Singh-Li talks on May 20.

In her briefing today, Hua skipped the reference to Depsang problem instead focussed on the fast improving relations between the two countries.

"We all know that the boundary issue is complicated issue left over from history. The two countries have made long term efforts of the settlement of the boundary issue", she said.

"Positive progress has already made in the previous rounds Special Representatives meeting. For example, we have signed the agreement on guiding principles to resolve the boundary issue and have also reached some preliminary consensus on the settlement of the issue", she said.

"We are trying to work together with India to find an equitable, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the issue. Pending the final settlement of the issue, we should safeguard the border areas and ensure it will not affect overall development of bilateral relations", she said.

Though there is no official announcement yet, officials here say Antony would visiting Beijing in the first week of July during which the two countries were expected to discuss the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, (BDCA). The two countries also finalised arrangements to resume military exercises to enhance the defence contacts between the two countries.

Also, both sides are working out mechanism for dialogue between their three forces, the army, navy and airforce in addition to the annual defence dialogue. Officials say the border talks are currently in second stage of the three stage process which has been agreed in the beginning.

The first stage was to do the guiding principles which resulted in 2005 agreement on the political parameters and guiding principles for boundary settlement.

The second stage is aimed at working out a framework for boundary settlement. Once a framework  is put in place, the countries will proceed to actual business of drawing boundary.

India asserts that the dispute covered about 4000 km, while China claims that it confined to about 2000 km to the area of Arunachal Pradesh, which it refers as Southern Tibet.

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