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India, China open year of friendship, push boundary solution

Delhi,Diplomacy, Thu, 29 Mar 2012 IANS

New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao Thursday formally declared 2012 as the year of India-China friendship, and decided to enhance political trust to resolve all outstanding issues like the border dispute and trade imbalance.


Taking note of the growing momentum in bilateral ties, the two leaders also decided to scale up their bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2015.


The talks lasted for nearly an hour and covered a range of bilateral issues as well as the need for closer coordination on global issues like climate change, the G20 and the Doha round of development negotiations.


Hu is understood to have appreciated India for curbing Tibetan protests during his two-day visit, probably his last to India before he makes way for Xi Jinping in a planned leadership succession later this year.


The two leaders formally lit an oil lamp to declare 2012 the "Year of India-China Friendship and Cooperation."


They unveiled a host of initiatives to bolster cultural, academic and people-to-people contacts, including setting up of a media forum to promote better public perception of their bilateral relationship. India raised the issue of huge imbalance in trade which has exceeded $70 billion, with the surplus heavily in China's favour, official sources said.


India also aksed China to allow market access to Indian IT and pharmaceutical companies.


On the sidelines of the BRICS summit, Indian and Chinese officials are also understood to have held initial talks on firming up the mechanism of maritime cooperation that was decided during the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to India last month.


Hu assured his Indian host that China was encouraging Chinese companies to scale up imports from India, said official sources. The two leaders decided to give a political push to resolve their boundary dispute that led to a war in 1962. In this context, both leaders agreed that the mechanism of special representatives to resolve the boundary dispute should continue.


Earlier in the day, the Chinese side struck an upbeat note on the course of bilateral ties. "The Chinese side appreciates the effective and concrete measures taken by the Government of India in overcoming the disruptions and the disturbances and in ensuring the safe and smooth holding of the (BRICS) summit," senior Chinese official Luo Zhaohui told reporters here.


Lou stressed that India and China were enjoying "very sound momentum" in their bilateral ties which is marked by frequent political contacts at the highest levels and cooperation in international issues.


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