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India, China sign border agreement but visa pact off over stapled visa row

India, China sign border agreement but visa pact off over stapled visa row

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets Chinese premier Li Keqiang in Beijing

Beijing:  India and China have signed an agreement on border defence cooperation and one on transborder rivers among several others this morning, though a key visa agreement has not been clinched.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on a  two-day visit to Beijing, said after talks with Chinese premier Li Keqiang, "When India and China shake hands, the world notices."

He said they had agreed that "peace at border is our strategic benchmark ... the relationship pursued by India and China with other countries must not become a source of concern to each other."

The border pact details measures to ensure "the principle of mutual and equal security", and reaffirms that "neither side shall use its military capability against the other side and that their respective military strengths shall not be used to attack the other side" and "that neither side shall use or threaten to use force against the other side by any means nor seek unilateral superiority." (Read full text of the agreement)

A total of nine agreements were signed.

A proposed agreement to liberalise visa has, however, not been signed as India is upset that the Chinese embassy in India issued stapled visas to two Arunachal Pradesh athletes days before Dr Manmohan Singh's visit.

China issues stapled visas to Arunachal residents as it stakes claim to the Indian state, describing it as south Tibet.

India rejects this claim and the Chinese move so close to the PM's Beijing visit put New Delhi in an awkward spot. "The decision (to issue stapled visas) was silly and illogical," an Indian government official said yesterday, adding, "We will not let someone from Arunachal be treated differently. We have therefore decided to defer the decision (to liberalise visa) for a while. Let the Chinese sweat a little."

Under the border pact signed today, the neighbours have agreed that relevant officials from both sides, including military personnel stationed at the border, will meet periodically to ensure that day-to-day disputes or differences at the local level can be sorted out quickly.

Chinese troops had entered 19 km inside what India considers its own territory in the Depsang plains of Ladakh in April this year and camped there for three weeks before withdrawing. But sources say this incident apart, the India-China Line of Actual Control (LAC) is one of the most peaceful borders in the world.

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