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India, China vow to pursue early solution to border issue

In this September 18, 2014 photo, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China's President Xi Jinping wave to the media during a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. Photo: .V. Moorthy   | Photo Credit: R_V_Moorthy

As they aim to reset ties, India and China have resolved to pursue finding an early solution to the thorny boundary issue as a “strategic objective”, noting that an early settlement of the dispute will advance their basic interests.

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held extensive talks, largely dominated by the border dispute, both the countries released a joint statement on Friday detailing the outcome of the deliberations.

On the boundary issue, the statement said the two sides exchanged views on the India-China boundary question and reiterated their commitment to seek a “fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution”, proceeding from the overall interests of bilateral relations.

Recognising “peace and tranquillity” on the border as an “important guarantor” for development and continued growth of ties, both the countries said they would continue to make joint efforts to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas pending a final resolution of the boundary question.

“Recalling the Agreement on the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the Boundary Question signed in April 2005, both sides reiterated their commitment to an early settlement of the boundary question and expressed their conviction that this will advance basic interests of the two countries and shall, therefore, be pursued as a strategic objective,” it said.

Though the import and positions in the 2013 Joint Statement, issued after talks between Premier Li Keqiang and then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and current one remain the same on boundary issue, there were new phrases in current document like “strategic objective” and “early solution” used in context of the contentious issue.

The joint statement of May 20, 2013 had said, “The leaders expressed satisfaction over the work done so far by Special Representatives of the two countries on the Boundary Question and encouraged them to push forward the process of negotiations and seek a framework for a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement in accordance with the Agreement on Political Parameters and Guiding Principles.

“Pending the resolution of the boundary question, the two sides shall work together to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas in line with the previous agreements,” it had said.

The three-day visit of Mr. Xi, the third by any Chinese President to India, was dominated by the border standoff in Ladakh region and Mr. Modi had taken up the issue strongly in their meeting on Thursday.

Both the sides reiterated their willingness to proactively resolve all outstanding differences based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence through friendly negotiation without letting them affect the overall ties.

“The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to consolidate the Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity on the basis of the principle of mutual and equal security and mutual sensitivity for each other’s concerns and aspirations,” it said.

India asserts that the border dispute covered about 4,000 km, while China claims that it confined to about 2,000 km to the area of Arunachal Pradesh, which it refers as Southern Tibet.

India and China have so far held 17 rounds of talks by Special Representatives to resolve the dispute.

Both Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi reaffirmed the utility and significance of the mechanism of Special Representatives for seeking a political settlement of the boundary question and of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs for handling border-related matters.

“They also agreed to hold the fourth joint army training at a mutually convenient time, hold Navy/Air Force joint exercise at a proper time, and strengthen cooperation in such areas as peacekeeping, counterterrorism, naval escort, maritime security, humanitarian rescue, disaster mitigation, personnel training, and think tank communication,” the joint statement said.

The two sides decided to hold the first round of maritime cooperation dialogue within this year to exchange views on maritime affairs and security, including anti-piracy, freedom of navigation and cooperation between maritime agencies of both countries. They also agreed to hold consultations on disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control soon.

The Chinese President also invited President Pranab Mukherjee to visit China at a mutually convenient time.

President Pranab Mukherjee accepted the invitation.

Mr. Xi said he was looking forward to an early visit of Mr. Modi to China. Mr. Modi said he accepted the invitation with pleasure and looked forward to visiting China at an early date.

The Chinese side said it understands and supports India’s aspiration to play a greater role in the U.N. including in the Security Council.

“China attaches great importance to India’s status in international affairs as a large developing country, and understands and supports India’s aspiration to play a greater role in the U.N. including in the Security Council,” it said.

Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi reiterated their “resolute opposition” to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations with “zero tolerance”, and committed themselves to cooperate on counterterrorism.

“The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to abide by the principles and consensus both had agreed to, and further consolidate the Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and mutual respect and sensitivities for each other’s concerns and aspirations,” the statement said.

They agreed that as two large developing and emerging economies, their developmental goals are interlinked and should be pursued in a mutually supportive manner.

Recognizing that their respective growth processes are mutually reinforcing, they agreed to leverage “mutual complementarities” and build a closer developmental partnership.

The leaders agreed to make this developmental partnership a core component of the Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity.

It said the two sides believe that the 21st century should be marked by peace, security, development and cooperation. “As developing countries, India and China have common interests on several issues of global importance like climate change, Doha Development Round of WTO, energy and food security, reform of the international financial institutions.”

The leaders assigned the Strategic Economic Dialogue to explore new areas for economic cooperation in diverse areas.

The two sides agreed to hold the 7th India-China Financial Dialogue in New Delhi in 2014 to enhance cooperation between Indian and Chinese financial regulators.

The Indian side approved, in principle, the request of the Bank of China to open a branch in Mumbai, for which the Chinese side expressed its appreciation.

Mr. Xi and Mr. Modi decided to carry out cooperation in civil nuclear energy in line with their respective international commitments, including working level consultations between the Department of Atomic Energy of India and the China Atomic Energy Authority.

The Indian side expressed appreciation to China for providing flood season hydrological data. They decided to further strengthen cooperation through the Expert-Level Mechanism on the provision of flood season hydrological data.

The two sides will make joint efforts to democratise international relations and strengthen the central role of the UN in promoting global peace, security and development.

“The two sides will work together with other countries to advance the multilateral negotiation to achieve a balanced, comprehensive and equitable agreement under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2015,” it said.

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