NATIONAL

Cabinet panel discusses brief for border talks with China

NEW DELHI, JULY 24 . The Cabinet Committee on Security met here today to finalise the brief for next week's meeting between the National Security Adviser, J.N. Dixit, and the Chinese Special Representative, Dai Bingguo. This will be the third meeting between the Special Representatives of India and China on the boundary question and the first since the formation of the new Government.

Apart from outlining the Indian approach, the 90-minute meeting presided over by the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, also reviewed the progress in the two rounds of meetings held so far and felt the process would be a long drawn one.

Emerging from the meeting, Mr. Dixit said the CCS essentially discussed "what we should say to him [the Chinese Special Representative] and what we should ask him to inform us," when the two Special Representatives meet here on July 26 and 27. He said the hostage crisis in Iraq involving three Indians did not figure at the meeting. "The Government is in touch with all relevant entities and agencies in Kuwait, Iraq and the U.S. and Iraqi Embassies in Delhi. We are doing our best to get them released," he said.

The 4,000 km-long Sino-Indian boundary is divided into western, middle and eastern sectors for the sake of convenience. It starts from the tri-junction of India, China and Afghanistan and at another tri-junction in the east where the borders of India, China and Myanmar meet. The two sides have been holding regular talks on the issue and some progress has been made. China has agreed to adopt a sector-by-sector approach instead of insisting on a package deal while India has acknowledged Beijing's desire for a comprehensive settlement. The two sides have also compared maps of some sectors and exchanged views.

The CCS meeting was attended by the Defence Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, the Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, the External Affairs Minister, Natwar Singh, the Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, and the Chief of the Army Staff, N. C. Vij.

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