India, China to hold border talks in November, Vietnam on agenda

October 28th, 2011 - 8:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Oct 28 (IANS) With India’s energy exploitation bid in the South China Sea threatening to cast a fresh shadow on bilateral ties, India and China will hold the 15th round of boundary talks here next month that could also see the sealing of a joint border mechanism between them.

The Special Representatives of India and China will meet Nov 28-29, highly placed sources told IANS. The two sides have been in touch for some time over the dates but the scheduling was proving to be difficult.

The talks will now take place after a likely meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the Nov 18-19 East Asia summit in Bali, Indonesia.

China’s State Councillor Dai Bingguo, who is Beijing’s special representative, will come to Delhi for talks with Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon.

The two countries will focus on firming up a framework for resolving their decades-old boundary dispute, the second and crucial stage that could form the basis for the final demarcation of the boundary and territorial give-and-take implicit in any final deal.

Despite the perception in strategic circles that the 14 rounds of talks so far have not made much headway, the Indian side believes there has been incremental progress. It would be unrealistic to expect any dramatic breakthrough soon given the political sensitivity of the issue, a government source said.

The two sides are also fast-tracking a joint border mechanism with a view to sealing it during the visit of China’s state councillor in November.

The mechanism would include diplomats from the external affairs ministry and military personnel, including representatives of the paramilitary forces, to maintain peace along the nearly 3,500-km border.

The border mechanism is being touted as an important confidence building measure that will help prevent misunderstandings arising out of incursions in each other’s territory stemming from the undemaracted Line of Actual Control.

Besides the boundary, a host of contentious issues that have tended to shadow bilateral ties in recent months will also be on the table.

The Chinese side is expected to voice its concern over India’s deal with Vietnam for exploration in the Chinese-claimed South China Sea. India has defended the deal.

Chinese state-controlled has deployed aggressive rhetoric with one English language publication, Link Times, warning it could “poison its relationship with China” if India went ahead with the exploration.

New Delhi admits there are many divergences with Beijing on some issues, but has emphasised that the positives outscore the negatives.

Bilateral trade is already touching $60 billion, with both sides confident to scaling it up to $100 billion.

India and China held their strategic economic dialogue last month. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visited China in June with a view to learning from the Chinese successes in infrastructure and agriculture.

India will host Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China, next week. Accompanied by a high-level business delegation, he will be in New Delhi and Mumbai Nov 3-6.

(Manish Chand can be contacted at manish.c@ians.in)

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