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China, India Discuss Border Issue in Beijing

China and India will finish their sixth round of talks today in Beijing seeking a solution to their long-term boundary dispute.


An expert on South Asian affairs said that although he is optimistic, he does not expect any remarkable breakthrough just yet.


"The talks will take the resolution process forward and lay a foundation for the future," Liu Jian said.


Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and Indian National Security Advisor M. K. Narayanan are taking part in the two-day special representative-level discussions.


Neither the Foreign Ministry nor the Indian Embassy in Beijing provided details of developments yesterday.


However, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang told reporters on Thursday that envoys would discuss the framework for resolving the border issue in line with the Political Guidelines for the Settlement of Border Issues.


Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to New Delhi in April, which coincided with the fifth round of talks, set the guiding principles. According to observers, the countries are entering the practical leg of their discussions.


Liu said the talks are making substantial progress as both sides have shown more urgency to settle the issue.


"There is no easy solution to the complex boundary dispute that has lasted for decades," he said. "A mutually acceptable settlement is in the best interests of both countries."


The border dispute has long been a sticking point in the countries' relations, analysts say. After a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York earlier this month, President Hu Jintao said the negotiations have made headway.


China has signed border treaties or agreements with 12 neighboring countries, covering 90 percent of its land boundaries.


Liu Zhenming, director of the Foreign Ministry's Department of Treaty and Law, said the border between China and India was never officially demarcated in the past, with the disputed areas stretching as large as 125,000 square kilometers. The countries share a 2,000-kilometer border. Liu said China and India began to discuss border issues in the 1980s and signed two related agreements in 1993 and 1996.


(China Daily September 27, 2005)


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