India urges efforts to avoid China border tensions

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BEIJING (AP) — China and India need to work harder to avoid flare-ups along their disputed border and resolve those that do happen more quickly, India's top diplomat said Friday.

On the second day of a visit to Beijing, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid praised the relatively smooth resolution of a three-week standoff between border troops from either side that ended Monday.

But in an interview with Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, Khurshid said the incident's occurrence and duration were "two important dimensions that we need to examine further."

"Therefore we need to do our own respective analysis as to why it happened and then, if such a thing was to happen again, which, I hope is unlikely, we should be able to resolve it much quicker than we did this time," Khurshid said.

New Delhi had accused Chinese troops of crossing the de facto border between the countries on April 15 and pitching camp in the Depsang valley in the Ladakh region of eastern Kashmir. Although China said its troops stayed on their side of the frontier as recognized by Beijing, India moved its soldiers just 300 meters (yards) from the Chinese position. A series of meetings were held and troops from both sides withdrew on Monday.

The incident was glossed over in a meeting between Khurshid and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday evening, in a sign it was unlikely to harm future high-level contacts, including an important visit later this month to India by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Wang was quoted by China's official Xinhua News Ageny as saying China remains committed to a negotiated resolution of the border dispute and to "jointly maintain peace and tranquility" until that happens.

Khurshid is scheduled to meet later Friday with Li and senior foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi.

The border incident had threatened to overshadow the minister's visit, which was intended to set the agenda for Li's India trip — his first overseas visit since taking on the post of premier in March. It's unclear what triggered the incident, although the sides often accuse each other of crossing the frontier high in the western Himalayas or of violating agreements with new construction or boosted deployments.

Asian giants with more than 1 billion people each, India and China have had chilly relations since they fought a brief but bloody border war in 1962.

India says China is occupying 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of territory in the Aksai Chin plateau in the western Himalayas, while China claims around 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) in India's northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. Fifteen rounds of talks have failed to resolve the dispute.

Despite occasional tensions, China has become India's biggest trading partner, with two-way trade jumping from $5 billion in 2002 to nearly $75 billion in 2011. Most of that trade is skewed in China's favor, another source of worry for India.

In a separate commentary, Xinhua praised the way the standoff had been resolved in a "quick fashion as the two-way ties are getting more mature each day."

It said both countries have an obligation "to keep a cooperative and healthy relationship because neither the region nor the world could afford to see the two countries constantly at odds."

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