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India, China ink 8 deals in range of issues, to identify `sister cities’

New Delhi, May 20 (PTI): India and China on Monday firmed up eight agreements to enhance cooperation in a range of areas from trade and culture to water resources and sewage treatment.

The agreements were signed after delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang.

To enhance trade, both the sides decided to set up three working groups under the Joint Economic Group. The three groups are Services Trade Promotion Working Group, Economic & Trade Planning Cooperation Group and Trade Statistical Analysis Group.

The pact for setting up of the working groups was signed by Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and his Chinese counterpart Gao Hucheng.

In 2012, bilateral trade between the two countries was $66 billion, a decline from the figure of $74-billion-plus in 2011. The two countries have set a target of $100 billion by 2015 for bilateral trade.

According to an agreement signed by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, China will make further improvements to the existing facilities for Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims including providing them with wireless sets and local SIM cards.

The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra will be conducted every year from May to September.

Under another pact, China will provide information of water level, discharge and rainfall twice a day from June 1st to October 15th each year in respect of three hydrological stations on the mainstream Brahmaputra river.

A separate Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between the India's Ministry of Water Resources and China's National Development & Reform Commission for cooperation to ensure water efficient irrigation.

Both the sides firmed another pact aimed at strengthening mutual cooperation in trade and safety of buffalo meat, fish products. The pact will also provide for regulatory requirements with respect to safety, hygiene and quarantine of such products.

An MoU was also signed between the Ministry of Urban Development and National Development & Reform Commission of China on cooperation in sewage treatment, and areas of interest in the urban sector.

Both sides also decided to coordinate translation and publication of 25 books of classic and contemporary works of each side over a period of five years into Chinese and Indian languages, respectively.

Another pact was signed between the Ministry of External Affairs and China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate cooperation and linkages between cities and provinces of the two countries.

Both sides agreed to identify “sister cities” and “sister states/ provinces” in India and China with a view to establish relationships between them in areas of mutual interest for enhancing greater people-to-people contacts.