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Giants India, China to discuss strategic issues
Updated: 2005-01-23 21:21

India and China will look to strategic issues such as the U.S.-led war on terrorism and their energy security to expand on a steady improvement in ties during talks Monday, officials and experts said.

For the first time, their talks will focus on broader issues than disputes when Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei and Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran meet.

The talks between the world's most populous countries, which have had frosty ties since a border war in 1962, are expected to touch on Iraq and tensions between the United States and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.

"The main focus will be the big global issues, this is an opportunity to broaden our bilateral relationship. We expect to exchange views on a range of subjects and perhaps find areas of agreement," said an Indian foreign ministry official.

India and China are trying to resolve decades-old border and territorial disputes, considered central to forging better ties.

Foreign policy analysts said India and China were signaling a willingness to enhance engagement, while continuing to tackle contentious issues such as the border row.


"The differences have not gone away, but they are both pushing for broader political and economic ties," said Sujit Dutta, a China specialist at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyzes, (IDSA) a government-funded New Delhi think-tank.

Dutta said New Delhi and Beijing, which have supported the U.S.-led war on terrorism, were concerned about U.S. activism in the region.

"China is especially concerned, and would like to bring other countries into the dialogue to see how they feel about the U.S. role. India obviously is a part of this calculation."

Uday Bhaskar, who heads the IDSA, said: "There is also a feeling that there are limits to America's ability to re-wire the world as we can see in both Iraq and Afghanistan."

India and China, among the world's biggest consumers of oil, also plan to discuss ways to exploit the energy resources of Central Asia, the Indian Express newspaper said.

"Both countries are strategically located to take advantage of this and these discussions will help converge approaches on future plans to tap resources," the newspaper said.

Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee went to China last year, the first visit by an Indian prime minister in a decade, and the two sides signaled their willingness to make concessions to settle their border disputes.

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