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China foreign minister in India talks
by Staff Writers
New Delhi (AFP) March 1, 2012

China's foreign minister held talks in India on Thursday that focused on issues affecting the neighbours' often troubled ties as well as an upcoming summit of major emerging economies.

Yang Jiechi, who arrived in New Delhi late Wednesday, kicked off his brief official visit with a round of discussions with his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna.

The talks covered preparations for a summit of the so-called BRICS nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- in New Delhi at the end of March, said foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin.

Brazil, India and South Africa have been lobbying to turn their growing economic clout into greater diplomatic influence by securing permanent seats on the UN Security Council.

After their talks, Krishna said "every possible issue" pertaining to China-India relations had been discussed.

"We have understood each other's position and we have understood the perspective and we will continue to exchange these," he added without elaborating.

Ties between the neighbours have never been easy and a border dispute which triggered a brief but bloody war in 1962 remains a source of tension and deep mistrust.

Fifteen rounds of talks on the border issue have yielded no progress and India fears China is becoming more assertive about its territorial claims.

China claims the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh as its territory and criticised a recent visit there by Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony as provocative.

Krishna retorted at the time that India "will not tolerate external interference of China into Indian territorial affairs".

On Thursday, local officials in Arunachal claimed that water levels in the local Brahmaputra river that originates in Tibet had plunged, leading to suspicion that China was to blame.

There are also tensions outside their common borders, especially in resource-rich areas such as the South China Sea, where both countries are engaged in energy exploration to fuel their growing economies.

Another irritant for China is the presence of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who has lived in India since fleeing a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

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India praises Pakistan's efforts to normalise trade ties
New Delhi (AFP) March 1, 2012 - India on Thursday welcomed Pakistan's decision to phase out major restrictions on Indian imports by the end of this year, a move to normalise trade ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

India's Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna thanked Pakistan for deciding to gradually scrap the "negative list" that prevents the export of hundreds of items from India.

"Pakistan is moving in the right direction in terms of bringing economic content into the political relationship," Krishna told reporters in New Delhi. "This would certainly help strengthen our bilateral ties."

Islamabad has decided in principle to phase out the negative list between the two countries by December 31, 2012, which will complete the trade normalisation process.

India's Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry, a trade body estimated that the move will increase cross-border trade to over $6 billion by 2014.

Direct trade between India and Pakistan currently constitutes less than one percent of their respective global trade. India exported goods worth $2.33 billion to Pakistan last year while its imports were $330 million.

In 1996, India granted Pakistan "most preferred nation" status which is intended to remove discriminatory higher pricing and duty tariffs.

Pakistan agreed in principle to grant a similar status to India last year, paving the way for a radical change.

Deepening economic engagement between the two countries is seen as crucial to establishing lasting peace in the troubled South Asian region.

Relations between India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars since the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947, have been plagued by border and resource disputes and accusations of Pakistani militant activity against India.


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