NEW DELHI (AP) – Officials from India and China were meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday to discuss ways to restore peace and tranquility on their shared Himalayan border, a source of longstanding tension between the Asian giants.
Top military and foreign ministry officials from the two sides were examining the workings of a group set up last year to deal with incidents on the border and defuse them before they escalate into major standoffs, said an Indian official speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
During the two-day meeting, India is expected to raise its concerns about incursions by Chinese troops into Indian territory across the Line of Actual Control that serves as an informal border. Officials will also discuss ways to ensure better communication between the two sides should any incident take place near the border.
In April, the two countries were caught in a three-week stand-off when Chinese soldiers moved deep inside Indian boundary. Indian officials have reported several minor incursions since then, including three in the past week, when Chinese troops entered the Indian side in the Leh region of northern India adjacent to southwestern China.
India and China have separately held 16 rounds of talks since 2003 to resolve their border dispute, without making much progress.
China claims around 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of land in India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, while India says China is occupying 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the western Himalayas.
The two nations face tensions in other areas as well. China is a longtime ally and weapons supplier to Pakistan, India’s bitter rival. The presence in India of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile irks Beijing. China is also suspicious of New Delhi’s growing ties with the United States.
Despite the tensions, trade between India and China has soared, with China becoming India’s biggest trading partner. Two-way trade jumped from $5 billion in 2002 to nearly $75 billion in 2011, but declined slightly last year because of global economic conditions.
India is concerned, however, that trade remains heavily skewed in China’s favor.
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