India seeks early settlement of border row with China

India seeks early settlement of border row with China

New Delhi says both countries should pursue it as a strategic objective

India seeks early settlement of border row with China

A day after Beijing sought to de-link India-China boundary row from other aspects of bilateral ties, New Delhi said on Tuesday that an early settlement of the dispute was in the interests of the two countries and both should pursue it as a “strategic objective”.

New Delhi on Tuesday formally announced Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s maiden state visit to India from May 19 to 21, but, at the same time, also officially confirmed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s tour to Japan just about a week later. The twin announcements assume significance as the prime minister is travelling to Tokyo to meet his new counterpart Shinzo Abe at a time when China has renewed its assertiveness on its territorial disputes with both Japan and India.

“Our conviction is that an early settlement of a boundary question will advance the basic interests of the two countries and we, therefore, feel that it should be pursued as a strategic objective by both countries,” Syed Akbaruddin, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, told journalists in New Delhi.

Akbaruddin’s comment came a day after his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang said India and China should not allow the boundary question to hinder bilateral ties.

 Talking to journalists in New Delhi, Qin called for redoubling efforts by both China and India to agree on a framework for a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary dispute, but at the same time stressed that the row was not the “whole picture” of the bilateral ties and the two countries should keep in mind the “larger interests” of the relation.

Standoff

Ahead of Li’s maiden state visit to India as the new Chinese Premier, the standoff between the border guards of the two countries at Depsang Bulge in Ladakh brought to the fore the boundary dispute.

The standoff started on April 15 when some soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and People’s Armed Police Force transgressed the Line of Actual Control (LAC). They pitched tents and stayed put in an area, which, according to New Delhi, was 19 kilometres inside the Indian territory from the LAC.

It was resolved on May 5 last with both sides agreeing to restore the status quo that existed before April 15 last.Though the border row has cast a cloud on bilateral ties, China is understood to be keen to ‘elevate’ its ties with India “to a new height” during Li’s visit to New Delhi and Mumbai.

 India and China had established a Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity in April 2005, when the then Chinese premier Wen Jiabao came to New Delhi.

Peaceful consultations

India on Tuesday reaffirmed its commitment to “peaceful consultations” to seek “a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable” settlement of its boundary dispute with China.
New Delhi also indicated that it would prod Beijing into restarting joint efforts to narrow differences over the Line of Actual Control to avert recurrence of standoffs till the two neighbours could resolve the complex boundary dispute.

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