Oct 22 2013, 9:43am CDT | by IANS
Beijing, Oct 22 IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that India and China are committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity on the border which is an "important guarantor and a fundamental basis" for future growth in bilateral ties.
In an interview to Chinese media ahead of his three-day visit to China, the prime minister termed the boundary question as "complex and sensitive", but the leadership of both countries are "united" on the issue of commitment to maintaining peace and tranquillity on their 4,000-km boundary.
He said that as long as both sides follow the principles and procedures set out for peace "and improve upon them where necessary to take into account the changing reality of India and China and enhance dialogue and friendly exchanges of border troops, I am confident that the strategic consensus between leaders will continue to be reflected on the ground".
He said India and China special representatives have "worked hard and arrived at the political parameters and guiding principles for a boundary resolution".
"In the present stage of their negotiations, they are seeking a framework for a boundary resolution," he said referring to the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement.
He said he supports the work done by the special representatives, which on the Indian side is National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon. "This is not an easy issue and will take time to resolve."
India and China have witnessed tension on the boundary, due to differing perceptions.
In April-May this year, troops of both sides were locked in a three-week standoff after Chinese troops intruded 19 km inside Indian territory in Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir. The issue was resolved after hectic negotiations.
Manmohan Singh said during his nine years as prime minister, he has "attempted to put India-China relations on a stable growth path".
"Working with the Chinese leadership, my attempt has been to create a forward looking agenda for our bilateral relations."
He said both sides have "also managed our differences and have kept our border region tranquil. At the same time, we have not allowed our differences to come in the way of expanding our cooperation in diverse areas".
"Stability and predictability in our relations has proved invaluable as both India and China address their internal priorities, particularly growth and development of 2.5 billion people."
To a question whether there is progress on a Regional Trading Agreement between both sides, he said the commerce ministers of both sides have been tasked to explore the idea.
But he added that there is a "great deal of concern" in Indian industry due to the adverse trade deficit. "When conditions are more propitious and trade is more even, we will find it more feasible to discuss an RTA or an FTA between our countries," he said.
He said he was happy that more Chinese firms are looking to India as an investment destination and added that he welcomes the Chinese proposal to set up an industrial cluster in India.
He said the Chinese side was shown a few sites where such a park could be set up. "We will work with the Chinese side in implementing the idea."
(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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