India and China today resolved to "intensify" their efforts to achieve a "fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable" solution to the vexed boundary question at an early date as the special representatives of the two countries held "constructive and forward-looking" talks over the issue.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met in Chengdu in southwestern Sichuan province for the 21st round of Special Representatives' talks.
While an early solution would serve the fundamental interests of both the countries, the two designated Special Representatives for the border talks also said pending the final solution, the two countries should maintain peace and tranquillity at the borders, ensuring that the dispute does not affect the overall development of bilateral ties.
The India-China border dispute covers 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control or LAC.
This was the first round of talks for Mr Wang after he succeeded State Councillor Yang Jiechi earlier this year. Mr Wang has become the state councillor, a rank higher than the foreign minister in the Chinese government's hierarchy.
"Recalling the strategic guidance and support to their work provided by the leaders at the Wuhan Summit, the Special Representatives resolved to intensify their efforts to achieve a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the India-China boundary question at an early date," according to a statement issued by the Indian Embassy in Beijing after the border talks said.
They were referring to the outcome of the first ever informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April this year in Wuhan.
Mr Doval and Mr Wang "underlined the importance of approaching the boundary question from the strategic perspective of India-China relations and agreed that an early settlement of the boundary question serves the fundamental interests of both countries," the statement said.
Special Representatives have agreed that pending the final resolution of the boundary question, it is important to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and to ensure that the boundary question does not affect the overall development of the bilateral relationship, the statement said.
"In this context, they noted the mature handling of issues relating to the India-China border areas since the Wuhan Summit," it said.
Acknowledging the importance of predictability in border management and underscoring the importance of maintaining strategic communication at all levels, the Special Representatives held discussions on various confidence building measures to promote exchanges and communication between their border personnel.
They directed that the bilateral Working Mechanism on Consultation and Coordination for Border Affairs -- which periodically meets to deal with issues arising due to aggressive patrols by the militaries along the LAC -- to work out further details over it.
Mr Doval and Mr Wang also reviewed recent developments in bilateral relations following the Wuhan Summit and subsequent meetings between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi in Qingdao in June 2018 and in Johannesburg in July 2018.
"The two Special Representatives underlined the importance of sustained and effective implementation of the directions given by their leaders with a view to further strengthening the Closer Developmental Partnership between India and China to mutual benefit and with due respect for each other's sensitivities, concerns and aspirations," the statement said.
They shared the view that stable and balanced development of bilateral relations is a positive factor for peace and prosperity in the region and the whole world, it said.
The Special Representatives also exchanged views on regional and global issues of common interest and agreed to maintain close consultations on such issues, it said.
The talks were constructive and forward looking, and focused on taking forward the India-China Closer Developmental Partnership in pursuance of the guidance provided by PM Modi and President Xi at Wuhan, the statement said.
"The Special Representatives undertook a comprehensive review of earlier rounds of talks under the SR mechanism," it said.
The last round, held in New Delhi between Mr Doval and Mr Yang, took place in the backdrop of the 73-day standoff between the two militaries at Doklam over Chinese army's plan to illegally build a road close to India's strategic "Chicken's Neck" corridor connecting the north-eastern states.
The standoff ended after the People's Liberation Army halted the plans to build the road.
Officials on both sides say a lot of spadework has been done to ensure peace and tranquillity at the border, though the solution to the border dispute is still elusive even after 20 rounds of talks.
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