India, China near pact aimed at keeping lid on border tension

India, China near pact aimed at keeping lid on border tension

(Reuters) – – India and China are close to an agreement to stop tension on their contested border touching of confrontation while they try to figure out a way to break decades-old stalemate on overlapping claims to long stretches of the Himalayas.

The border defense cooperation pact that diplomats are racing to finalize ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to China next week is a small step forward in a complicated relationship marked by booming economic ties but also growing distrust.

In May, the two armies ended a three-week standoff in the western Himalayas after Chinese troops set up a camp at least 10 km (6 miles) inside territory claimed by India, triggering a public outcry and calls that India should stand up to its powerful neighbor.

China denied that troops had crossed into Indian territory.

Under the new agreement, the two nuclear-armed sides will give notice of patrols along the ill-defined border. They will ensure that patrols do not “tail” each other to reduce the chance of confrontation.

The two armies, strung out along the 4,000-km (2,500-mile) border from the high altitude Ladakh plateau in the west to the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh in the east, have also agreed to set up a hotline between top ranking officers, in addition to existing brigade-level contacts.