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India FM in China visit after border row

India FM in China visit after border row

Thursday, May 09, 2013, 08:04 GMT+7

BEIJING – Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid begins a two-day trip to China on Thursday, just days after the resolution of a border flare-up that highlighted longstanding tensions between the Asian giants.

The world's two most populous countries have in recent years seen relations improve and trade boom, and both sides had sought to stay low-key over the latest row, which lasted several weeks.

Two-way trade totalled $69 billion in 2012, dominated by $54 billion of Chinese exports to India, figures from the commerce ministry in Beijing show.

But ties remain dogged by mutual suspicion left over from a 1962 border war high in the Himalayas.

The informal frontier dividing the two countries, called the Line of Actual Control, has never been formally demarcated, although the two sides have signed accords to maintain peace in the area.

The latest stand-off began in mid-April when India accused Chinese soldiers of setting up camp nearly 20 kilometres (12 miles) inside a region claimed by India.

Beijing dismissed the accusation at the time as the "speculation of some Indian people", saying Chinese troops "have never trespassed the line".

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing on Wednesday that thanks to "joint efforts" the two sides had "reached consensus on the incident... and properly handled it".

"The sound of steady development of bilateral relations serves the common interests of both countries and peoples," she said, praising the "good development" of ties.

"China and India are both important developing countries and emerging economies," she added.

Khurshid will meet with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and other Chinese leaders, she said, without providing further details.

The Indian diplomat had hinted in recent days that he might cancel his visit if the dispute was not settled, and the row had also cast a cloud over a trip to New Delhi by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang scheduled for later this month.

Khurshid has said it was important to avoid "destroying" years of progress made between the two countries, while Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also stressed his desire to avoid escalating the situation.

Small incursions of a few kilometres across the disputed boundary occur regularly but it is unusual for either side to set up camps far inside disputed territory.

AFP

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