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China and India to discuss Kashmir issues

May 7, 2013 at 6:04 AM   |   Comments

NEW DELHI, May 7 (UPI) -- Disputed border issues will be prominent during meetings when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits India this month on his first foreign trip.

Indian government sources told The Times of India newspaper that discussions about a recent standoff between military personnel from China and India in the northern area of Kashmir and Jammu state would be addressed.

After several rounds of formal talks, Chinese troops withdrew from the Himalayan Ladakh region, ending nearly three weeks of occupation, the Times reported.

"This may possibly mean the boundary issue will figure more prominently in Li's upcoming visit to India May 20," a senior government official told the Times.

In April Chinese patrols moved about 12 miles into what India claims as its side of the Line of Actual Control, the de facto border, and set up camp around 500 feet from an Indian patrol camp.

There were no reports of hostilities and the move was suspected only to raise the wider issue of demarcation, which has suffered from "difference of perception between India and China," the official reportedly said.

The government also announced Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will visit Beijing Thursday.

The rugged Himalayan region has been the focus of several armed conflicts since 1947 when the British divided the area between India and Pakistan upon independence for the subcontinent.

India and Pakistan fought wars in 1947, 1965 and 1999 and also have skirmished several times in the Siachen Glacier region.

India and Pakistan agreed on a Kashmir cease-fire line in 2003 although Pakistan claims all of India's Jammu and Kashmir state, which is around 60 percent Muslim -- India's only Muslim majority state.

China and India fought a brief indecisive war over the region's ill-defined border with India in 1962 and the two countries since have carefully patrolled the region.

But India recently said it is concerned about improving relations between Pakistan and China that might affect the Kashmir region.

In particular, India must speed up modernization of its army and air force in the face of China's military threat and Pakistan's backing of Taliban groups, The Times of India reported last month.

India has been slow to build up defensive forces along its northern borders to counter China's "military assertiveness," Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony said during a presentation at a closed-session army commanders' conference in early April.

The Times News Network reported Antony saying China has been developing its military infrastructure along its side of the 2,520-mile Line of Actual Control.

China also has been building up relations with Pakistan, a country that continues its "anti-India stance" and its "obsession" with occupying India's neighboring Jammu and Kashmir state, Antony said.

Pakistan is "a unique threat" because of its rapidly growing nuclear arsenal coupled with its military modernization thanks to help from China and the United States, Antony said.

Topics: A.K. Antony
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