New Delhi, June 17: An agreement to put in place further confidence-building measures on securing the disputed border is likely to be signed during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s upcoming visit to China.
There is also a chance that the two sides may exchange maps of the contentious western sector on the Line of Actual Control while the Prime Minister is in China or soon after he leaves.
The proposed border pact is one of several agreements likely to be signed during Vajpayee’s June 22-27 visit.
The border pact is intended to provide guidelines for the implementation of two previous agreements — the 1993 pact to maintain peace and tranquillity along the border and the 1996 agreement on military confidence-building measures.
Pacts are also likely to be signed on mutual investment protection, cultural exchanges, trade in agriculture and sharing of information on the Brahmaputra and Romchin Zambu rivers.
Memoranda of understanding on science and technology exchange and cooperation, judicial matters and oceanic cooperation are also likely to be signed.
Vajpayee’s visit is significant not only because it is the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 10 years but also because of recent important developments the world over.
The possibility that India and China may finally get around to exchanging maps on the western sector will help narrow differences over the disputed border.
Despite a number of meetings, the two sides have only managed to exchange maps on the middle sector — the least contentious of the areas to be demarcated.
The western and eastern sectors are the most controversial areas. The eastern segment will be taken up last, with the focus at present on the western sector. This covers Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and the land gifted to China by Islamabad through a 1965 treaty.
But the mere acceptance of maps does not mean endorsement of each other’s claim on the land. It will only help armed forces on either side understand better which areas are under whose control.
The agreement on mutual investment protection is considered important as the neighbours are looking to fast-track bilateral trade, hoping it will lead to improved relations.
Though growth in trade, currently estimated at $5 billion, has been impressive, bilateral investment has been disappointing.
A large Indian business delegation is scheduled to be in China during Vajpayee’s visit. The Prime Minister is slated to address a joint meeting of Indian and Chinese business groups in Beijing.