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India, China to hold crucial border talks ahead of Wen’s visit

India, China to hold crucial border talks ahead of Wen’s visit

Beijing: Special Representatives of India and China will hold the crucial 14th round of border talks here on Monday to resolve the long-running boundary dispute between the two countries, ahead of a key visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to New Delhi.

National Security Advisor (NSA) Shivshankar Menon, the designated Special Representative of India who is arriving here tomorrow on a three-day visit, would hold talks with his Chinese counterpart State Councillor Dai Bingguo on November 29 and 30 to find a way forward to resolve the boundary dispute.

The last round was held in New Delhi in 2009 between the then NSA, M K Narayanan and Dai which ended without much progress.

India and China share about 4,000-km long borders. China has staked claims to Akasai Chin in the Ladakh region and Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing refers to as southern Tibet.

Though India-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.

In 2005, China and India signed a political guiding principle on demarcation of the boundary.

The border issue came up for discussion during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with Wen last month on the sidelines of the Asean summit in Hanoi.

On the boundary problem, both Singh and Wen said they looked forward to early resolution of the issue and asked their special representatives to deal with the subject with a sense of urgency.

The latest round of special representative talks from Monday assume significance as it will the final high-level discussions between the two countries before next month’s crucial visit of Premier Wen to New Delhi.

The talks come amid a row between the two countries on the issues of the stapled visas being issued by China to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, presence of Chinese personnel building various projects in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Beijing’s plan to construct new nuclear power projects in Pakistan.

The issue of stapled visas has become a major irritant in bilateral ties as the recent refusal of visa to top Indian general B S Jaswal on the ground that he headed troops of Northern Command, which included Jammu and Kashmir, had provoked India to put on hold defence exchanges with China.

The row over stapled visas had been raised by external affairs minister S M Krishna during his meeting with Chinese foreign minister Yang Jeichi on the sidelines of Russia, India, China (RIC) ministers meeting at Wuhan in China on 14 November.

India and China held "open and candid" discussions on a host of issues, including the row over stapled visas for Kashmiris, Sino-Pak nuclear ties, Chinese activities in PoK and existence of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan during the fourth round of bilateral strategic dialogue between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun on 16 November.

An official Chinese online map launched to rival Google Earth’s maps had sparked controversy as it showed some Indian territories as part of China. Akasai Chin in the Ladakh region, which India asserts as part of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, was included in China’s Xinjiang province.

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