India, China sign border management pact

New Delhi: In a major confidence building measure, India and China today signed an agreement for setting up a mechanism to avert any untoward incident on border with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying good cooperation between the two countries would bring "great changes" in the world.

The agreement was signed after two-days of talks between Special Representatives (SR) — National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo — during which they noted the importance of regular high-level exchanges and strengthening cooperation across different areas. The Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, to be headed by a joint secretary level officer, will undertake mutually agreed tasks but will not discuss resolution of the boundary question or affect the SR process.

"The mechanism will ensure that anything happening on the border is immediately referred to the concerned higher level authorities so that we maintain the relative peace and tranquility along the border," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told reporters here. Since the Sino-India border is not delineated, incidents of transgressions have been irritants in the bilateral ties. Dai called on Singh who said that good cooperation between the two countries will bring about great changes to the world.

Singh said that India was ready to work with China to push forward bilateral cooperation in all the fields. Singh said the SR talks have achieved "positive progress" said India sought a solution to the boundary question on the basis of fairness, reasonableness and mutual acceptance.

"Making a positive appraisal of the current state of bilateral relations, the SRs noted the importance of regular high-level exchanges and strengthened cooperation across different areas between the two countries," a External Affairs Ministry statement said here. The mechanism will study ways and means to conduct and strengthen exchanges and cooperation between military and establishments of the two sides in the border areas. During the two-day talks, the SRs also agreed to prepare a joint record on the progress made so far in the talks between them on the boundary question.

The SR mechanism was set up in 2003 following the visit of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to China with Dai and the then National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra as the SRs. Dai had said China and India have "scaled much height" and "produced some results" on the framework of settlement of the boundary question on Monday.

"In the China-India boundary negotiations, although we have not yet arrived at the summit — that is we have not reached full agreement on the framework of settlement of the boundary question — but we have scaled much height and made much progress," Dai said.

"I think we can tell the people of both countries that we had not been lazy in this exercise and we have produced some results for our work," he had said. The 15th meeting of SRs was to be held in November last year but had to be postponed after China protested Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama`s participation in a religious function in the capital around the time of the talks. India had then rejected China`s demand for cancellation of the function leading to the postponement of the talks.