Border issue, trade to figure in Khurshid’s Beijing agenda

New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) With the border stand-off resolved, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid heads to Beijing Thursday for talks during which the Chinese troop incursion and the differing perceptions of the Line of Actual Control are expected to figure, besides other bilateral issues.

The border stand-off had threatened to cast a shadow on Khurshid’s May 9-10 visit, as well as the May 20 visit to India of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang – his maiden trip abroad as premier.

The external affairs minister, who last week hinted he could reconsider his Beijing trip if there was no progress in resolving the border stand-off, Wednesday said he was “comfortable” with the way India and China showed “tremendous maturity” in handling the issue.

During a meeting with resident Chinese journalists, Khurshid expressed optimism on the future of Sino-India relations. “Bilateral relations are in the right court,” Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.

Khurshid would also discuss the trade imbalance with China during his visit, and raise Indian concerns of exports of several items, especially drugs and pharmaceuticals, facing trade barriers in China.

“The single most important factor” in the stand-off caused by the “quite unexpected” intrusion of Chinese troops, “was the way diplomacy was quietly at work from both sides”, Rajiv K. Bhatia, director general, Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) told IANS.

“It is my considered view that is how it should be in today’s world. It is wrong to think of nuclear and military conflict. We live in complex times and when divergences occur, we must leverage our diplomacy,” said the former envoy.

He said Khurshid’s Beijing visit would give him an opportunity to interact with the new team in China.

Chinese troops had intruded 19 km inside Indian territory in Depsang area of Ladakh on April 15 and pitched tents. After five flag meetings and dozens of phone calls between the two sides, the issue was resolved on Sunday evening with troops of both sides moving back to their positions that existed before April 15.

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