Russia, China to sign border agreement

July 19th, 2008 - 3:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, July 19 (RIA Novosti) Russia will sign an agreement with China early next week handing over control of two disputed islands to its communist neighbour. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit China July 21-22 to sign a document delineating the long-disputed border in the eastern sector between the two countries, the foreign ministry said.

Earlier this month, a senior Russian security official said that Moscow would in August relinquish control of the Tarabarov island and about half of the Bolshoi Ussuriysky island, located at the confluence of the Amur and the Ussuri rivers, under a 2004 bilateral agreement.

Russia and China signed agreements in 1991 and 1994 delineating the eastern and western sectors of their common borders, but issues over several minor areas were left unresolved.

The two islands - occupied by the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1929 and referred to collectively in Chinese as the Heixiazi - were the site of several military skirmishes between the two countries during the 1960s.

The 2004 agreement on the eastern sector of the 4,300-km border, the world’s longest land frontier, was signed after China agreed to drop territorial claims to islands near the Russian city of Khabarovsk.

During his visit, Lavrov will meet Chinese leader Hu Jintao, premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi “to discuss urgent issues of international and regional politics”.

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