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No breakthrough in India-China talks
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 23
The special representatives-level talks between India and China on boundary dispute that ended yesterday followed the same pattern as nine such previous rounds: there was neither any breakthrough nor any breakdown.

The tenth round of the talks between the special representatives - Indian national security adviser M.K. Narayanan and Chinese vice-foreign minister Dai Bingguo - covered a large gamut of issues regarding the 1,25,000 sq km of disputed border territory.

The April 20-22 talks, held in New Delhi and Coonoor (Tamil Nadu), focussed on Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh) and Aksai Chin (Ladakh) - the two foremost sore points in the border dispute.

The two sides have been considering highly sensitive and complicated give-and-take formulae on Tawang and Aksai Chin. However, the Indian bottom line in the matter is that no such formula would be acceptable to New Delhi that entails population transfer.

On Tawang, the two sides might consider a formula to make the border between Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet “irrelevant”, much on the lines of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s vision of making borders between India and Pakistan “irrelevant”.

Aksai Chin is of immense strategic importance for India. Ever since China grabbed Aksai Chin in the 1962 war, it secured a direct supply route between Tibet and Xinjiang.

Both sides are aware that their border dispute is a long haul. China hinted at this last week when its oldest Chinese-language newspaper, published from Hong Kong, carried a commentary on the India-China border dispute.

The newspaper, Ta Kung Pao, the Chinese government’s mouthpiece, quoted Sun Shihai, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CSIS), as saying: “The territorial dispute between China and India is not the same as that between China and Russia. As long as both parties understand and accommodate each other and take into account comprehensively racial, geographical, historical and strategic factors, a proper settlement could eventually be reached.”

For the record sake, the ministry of external affairs here issued a brief statement saying that the two special representatives continued their discussions on a framework for the boundary settlement on the basis of the Agreement on Political Parameters and Guiding Principles.

“The talks were held in an open, friendly, cooperative and constructive atmosphere… Both sides agreed to hold the next round of talks between the special representatives in China at a mutually convenient time, which will be decided through diplomatic channels,” it said.

On April 20, vice-foreign minister Dai paid courtesy calls on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee.

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