India, China begin hectic parleys on bilateral issues
Beijing: Bracing for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s proposed visit here next month, India and China today began a series of meetings on a gamut of bilateral issues that will include talks on border security mechanisms next week.
Officials, heading working groups of the annual bilateral Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED), a key forum that focuses on economic and trade cooperation at micro and macro levels, began their four-day meeting here.
This will be followed by the meeting of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on Border Affairs, a key forum where both sides discuss contentious issues relating to the boundary, including recurring incidents of Chinese military incursions.
The meeting, which will be held here from September 29 to 30, assumes significance as both sides have held hectic parlays during the past few months to hammer out a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) to deal with the tensions arising out of recurring Chinese incursions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The agreement is expected to be signed during Singh`s visit which was likely to take place in late October.
Pending the boundary settlement, the agreement was expected to address contentious issues, including patrolling of unmarked borders.
India has initiated broad infrastructure development along the nearly 4000 kilometre-long boundary with plans to build roads and setting up watch towers much to the dislike of Chinese military, which already has a well built network of border development.
The SED meeting is taking place in the backdrop of dwindling bilateral trade between the two countries which dropped to around USD 66 billion last year from a high of USD 74 billion in 2011.
Also, India is insisting on China to open up its markets to address the over USD 28 billion trade deficit.
The last meeting of the SED was held in New Delhi in 2012 between Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and his Chinese counterpart Zhang Ping, Chairman National Development and Reform Commission, during which the two sides signed several MOUs.
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