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India, China hold 17th round of border talks

Looking to turn the page from last year's heightened tensions along the disputed border, special representatives from India and China held a two-day dialogue in New Delhi. The latest meetings represented the 17th round of talks on border issues.

NEW DELHI: Looking to turn the page from last year's heightened tensions along the disputed border, special representatives from India and China held a two-day dialogue in New Delhi.

Observers, however, said the talks were merely ceremonial and will not be enough to prevent future border transgressions.

The latest meetings represented the 17th round of talks on border issues.

Top of the agenda was implementing the newly-signed Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA), which was confirmed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's trip to Beijing last year.

It is a pact aimed at minimising the use of force along parts of the disputed border, and protecting civilian lives.

The two sides also reviewed recent developments in the India-China border areas, especially in the Western Sector, and deliberated on further steps for maintaining peace and tranquility at the border.

Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, said: "Even while we are discussing this issue of boundary framework, there was an acceptance by both sides that they discussed and agreed that the continued maintenance of peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas is the corner stone of an expanding India-China relationship."

The boundary talks have now entered the second stage of a three-stage process.

While the first stage focused on political parameters, the current stage involved a much more daunting task of finding a resolution to territorial disputes.

The 17th round of talks was significant. It is the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government's last contact with China's leadership on the border issue before India goes to the polls.

However, Srikanth Kondapalli, professor in Chinese Studies Jawaharlal Nehru University, said little progress has been made.

Dr Kondapalli said: "If you go by history, we don't see spectacular results in these talks. For example, we have had 31 years of discussions on the territorial dispute resolution. So for every talk, if we say that the dispute is going to be resolved in the next talks, I think we are fooling around."

Despite what critics say, both parties are adamant developments have been positive.

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