India, China ‘to build trust’ over border dispute

HUA HIN: Indian premier Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart have agreed to work towards lowering tensions in a long-running border dispute, he told reporters Sunday.

Singh and Wen Jiabao had a “frank and constructive” discussion over the territorial spat that took the giant Asian neighbours to war nearly five decades ago and has dogged relations ever since.

“The premier and I reaffirmed the need to maintain peace and tranquillity at the border pending the resolution of the border question,” Singh told reporters at an Asian summit in the Thai beach resort of Hua Hin. He said the two countries have to continue efforts “to build political trust and understanding”.

“I had a frank and constructive exchange of views with Premier Wen. We discussed all these issues and agreed that existing mechanisms for bilateral co-operation should be used.” The leaders of the world’s two most populous countries were meeting on the sidelines of a regional summit grouping the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other countries.

Beijing has registered its annoyance with New Delhi at a recent visit by Singh to Arunachal Pradesh, a disputed Indian border state, and to a proposed visit to the territory by exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama. China and India fought a border war in 1962 in which Chinese troops advanced deep into Arunachal Pradesh and inflicted heavy casualties on Indian forces. India says China occupies 38,000 sq kms of its Himalayan territory, while Beijing claims all of Arunachal Pradesh, an area of 90,000 sq kms.

Singh said he did not know if a visit to the region was on the cards for the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing regards as a “splittist” bent on independence for Tibet.