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India says working on new border agreement with China

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

India said Saturday it was working with China on a new border defence cooperation agreement as the neighbours seek to repair the damage from a border flare-up that highlighted long-rumbling tensions.

Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid made the statement following a two-day trip to China aimed at paving the way for the visit to India later this month of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

He told reporters in New Delhi that special representatives of India and China will meet in a couple of months to discuss the issues.

"China proposed sometime back a proposal for Border Defence Cooperation Agreement. We have also given our suggestions," he said.

On the recent alleged incursion by Chinese troops into Indian-claimed territory in the Himalayas, he said India would "not do any post-mortem or apportion blame", adding his Chinese hosts had been "extremely friendly".

The world's two most populous countries have in recent years seen relations improve and trade boom, and both sides had sought to stay low-key over the latest row, which lasted several weeks.

Khurshid said the two countries were "both equally determined that such incidents should not be able to obstruct a very meaningful growth in our relationship".

The latest standoff began in mid-April when India accused Chinese soldiers of setting up camp nearly 20 kilometres (12 miles) inside a region claimed by India.

Beijing dismissed the accusation at the time as the "speculation of some Indian people", saying Chinese troops "have never trespassed the line".

China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying has said that thanks to "joint efforts" both sides "properly handled" the incident.

The informal frontier dividing the two countries, called the Line of Actual Control (LAC), has never been formally demarcated, although the two sides have signed accords to maintain peace in the area.

Analysts say that Li's heading to New Delhi so soon after taking office in March indicated that China viewed India as increasingly important.

Ties between the neighbours have been dogged by mutual suspicion that lingers long after a 1962 border war high in the Himalayas.

The planned visit made the latest border incident perplexing since it damaged efforts to strengthen ties, analysts said, adding that it possibly suggested a failure of civil-military coordination.

Small incursions of a few kilometres across the disputed boundary occur regularly but it is unusual for either side to set up camps far inside disputed territory.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130511/india-says-working-new-border-agreement-china