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Asian Powers Seek to Settle Frontier Disputes

China and India are taking tangible steps to thrash out a reasonable solution to their decades-old border disputes.

Special representatives for the two sides are expected to draw up a framework for demarcating the 2,000-kilometer frontier at a two-day meeting that started in Beijing yesterday.

This spearheads the full implementation of an 11-point roadmap agreed between leaders of both nations when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited India early this year.

The fresh round of talks between the Asian giants bears testimony to their determined efforts to settle the sticking point in bilateral ties based on the political parameters already agreed.

The consensus, shared by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on pursuing a pragmatic solution to the dispute with a greater urgency when they met on the sidelines of the United Nations 60th General Assembly in New York this month, has fuelled expectations of an end to the main source of bilateral discord.

This round of talks comes as rapport has improved in the recent past as the neighbors settle problems with frankness and sincerity, and seek solutions acceptable to both sides.

When then Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajapayee paid a historic visit to Beijing in June 2003, the first tour of China by an Indian prime minister in a decade, the two nations signed the Declaration on Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Co-operation, a legal document guiding the development of bilateral ties in the new century, and laying a solid foundation for furthering partnerships on all fronts.

In the declaration, both sides vowed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the border dispute through consultations on an equal footing.

The countries have appointed special representatives to explore the framework for the boundary settlement from the political perspective of the overall bilateral relationship.

A key starting point that should lead to the realization of the proposal from both leaders to settle the border row politically, rather than merely technically, this week's talks in Beijing form the toughest leg of the roadmap and indicate the political will and courage of both sides to carry forward the momentum of pushing for the talks leading to a final settlement.

The Sino-Indian boundary has never been formally delineated, although a traditional frontier exists between the two nations that can be divided into eastern, middle and western sections.

The border skirmishes between the neighbors in 1962 were a serious setback for bilateral relations.
Involving religious, cultural and historical factors, the matter is by no means merely a territorial conflict that can be settled quickly.

Nevertheless, the current border dispute should not stand in the way of further growth in warming bilateral ties.

Through several rounds of talks, both China and India have adopted a more realistic and self-restrained attitude.

The resolve on both sides to continuously maintain peace and tranquility in border areas along the ceasefire demarcation - the Line of Actual Control - should be continued to create better conditions for the final settlement of border friction in the future.

It is time for China and India to show their ability and wisdom to settle the dispute left by history for the sake of the interests of the two countries and their peoples and the enduring peace and stability of the region and the world as a whole.

(China Daily September 27, 2005)


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