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One last push on border row before China changeover

Sandeep Dikshit
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China says trade balance will come about gradually

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao ahead of a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of Asean summit in Phnom Penh on Monday.— PHOTO: AFP/ PIB
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao ahead of a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of Asean summit in Phnom Penh on Monday.— PHOTO: AFP/ PIB

India and China will make one last attempt at making progress on the border question before a new leadership takes over in Beijing.

National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon will travel to Beijing, immediately after the India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue to be held at the end of this month, to meet his counterpart on the issue, Dai Bingguo, who lays down office in March next.

The Special Representatives will meet after almost a year, having last met in New Delhi in January this year. That no talks were held all through last year underscores how intense the stalemate is. “The issue was mentioned in the context of the ongoing dialogue between the two countries,” Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said, briefing journalists on a 40-minute meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit here on Monday morning.

As Mr. Wen retires in March, the two leaders recalled their long association, spanning seven years and 14 meetings, and focussed on economic issues.

Though several rounds of talks between the Special Representatives did not resolve all differences, these interactions, as well as related instruments such as the Inter-Ministerial Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on Border Affairs, had largely helped to maintain peace on the border, Mr. Wen said.

Mr. Wen described his experience of working with Dr. Singh as “memorable” and was confident that the new Chinese leadership would give greater importance to ties with India. Dr. Singh noted the elaborate architecture for dialogue — four meetings between the Foreign Ministers in one year, besides several high-level visits — and said it branched out to cover new areas like west and central Asia.

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