India for early settlement of boundary issue with China

New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) Ahead of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s three-day state visit from May 19, India Tuesday said it favoured an early settlement of the boundary question and the issue should be pursued as a strategic objective by both countries.

A day after a senior Chinese official, who was here in preparation for Li’s visit, said that India and China need to “speed up” their talks to resolve the festering boundary question, spokesperson of the external affairs ministry Syed Akbaruddin said India is keen for an early settlement of the issue.

“It is our conviction that an early settlement of the boundary question will advance the basic interest of both countries and, therefore, we feel it should be pursued as a strategic objective by both countries,” he said in response to a question at a briefing.

Akbaruddin said India had earlier made the offer that till the border issue is resolved, one mechanism was that “we could sign and clarify the Line of Actual Control”.

The visit of Li comes days after India and China ended a 20-day border stand-off following the April 15 incursion by Chinese troops 19 km into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control – the de facto border.

The Chinese troops pitched tents in the Depsang area of Ladakh, prompting Indian troops to advace their positions. The stand-off was resolved following prolonged negotiations ahead of External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s May 9 visit to Beijing.

Special representatives of India and China have held 15 rounds of talks so far to resolve the boundary issue. The talks have led to conclusion of the first step – where “both sides have arrived at an agreement on the political parameters and guiding principles of the boundary question”, said the spokesperson.

Discussions are now on the second phase – “the framework for resolution of the boundary question”, he said, adding that India is committed to “seek a fair, reasonable, and mutually acceptable solution of the boundary question”.

Premier Li, who has chosen India as the first port of visit to highlight the importance he places in ties with New Delhi, is coming on the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He will also go to Mumbai where he will address a meeting with the three Indian business chambers, including CII. He is to also meet relatives of Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis, an Indian physician who provided medical assistance during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1938.

Premier Li is to hold restricted and delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is hosting a banquet for him on May 20. Both leaders are also likely to issue a joint statement after their talks.

Li will go to Pakistan after his India visit and later Switzerland and Germany.

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