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India, China reach understanding on border talks progress

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, Dec 4, IRNA -- India and China have reached a "common understanding" on the progress made so far in their vexed border talks that will provide a framework for drawing a "fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable" boundary, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said today.

The understanding was reached during the current round of talks here between Menon and his designated Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo.

"Dai and I agreed on common understanding on discussions on the framework for a boundary settlement," Menon told media in Beijing today, pti reported. Menon and Dai, the Special Representatives for the boundary talks, held three rounds of parleys yesterday spanning about six hours.

Elaborating, Menon said the border talks are currently in the second stage of a three-stage process which had been agreed in the beginning.

The first stage was to work out the guiding principles. It resulted in the 2005 agreement on the political parameters and guiding principles for boundary settlement.

The second stage is aimed at working out a framework for boundary settlement.

"Once we have a framework we will proceed to actual business of drawing boundary that is fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable," he said.

"We are in the middle of the second stage. What we try to do in the common understanding which we prepared was to say where we are today," he said.

"Overall when we looked at our relationship and when we looked at the boundary that we have actually made considerable progress and we handled the relationship well. The border is peaceful and we made progress towards settlement,"

"There is work still to be done. Both sides recognize that," Menon said, adding they have not allowed the boundary issue to prevent all-round development of relations.

The two countries launched the mechanism of meetings between Special Representatives on border issues in 2003.

Dai, who would be retiring in March, has remained China's Special Representative in all the 15 rounds so far.

India asserts that the dispute covered about 4,000 km, while China claims that it is confined to about 2000 km to the area of Arunachal Pradesh, which it refers to as Southern Tibet.

Menon, who also met Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi yesterday, wound up his visit today after calling on Wu Bangguo, the number two in the outgoing leadership of the ruling Communist Party, ranked next to President Hu Jintao.

His meeting with Wu, also the Chairman of China's national legislature, the National People's Congress, was an anti-climax as he had not met any members of the all-powerful new seven-member Standing Committee of the CPC.

Menon's visit was partly aimed at establishing contacts with the new leadership headed by CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping.

Earlier, he was expected to meet Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who is to replace Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Menon is the first foreign dignitary to visit China after the leadership change at the 18th Congress of the ruling Communist Party of China last month.

On his part, Menon said he was not disappointed.

"Not at all. I actually got bumped up. I got to meet the Chairman of the NPC," he said answering a question.

But at the same time, he said he extended a message from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to new CPC leader Xi, greeting him on his election.

Xi, in turn, conveyed a message back welcoming Singh's good wishes.

"We conveyed our message and they conveyed theirs. We expect this relationship to continue to develop and deepen. It is in our objective interest and theirs. Frankly it is a relationship which is getting important to the region and world," he said.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 1033289

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