March 8, 2015 / 5:28 AM / in 2 years

China says progress being made on India border talks

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gestures as he speaks at a news conference at the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's parliament, in Beijing, March 8, 2015.Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - Progress is being made on drawn-out border talks with India, China's foreign minister said on Sunday, likening the process to climbing a mountain that becomes harder the closer to the summit you get.

The neighboring giants have had numerous rounds of talks over the years without making much apparent process, in a dispute which dates back to a brief border war in 1962.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the problem as one "left over from history".

"After many years of hard efforts, the border talks continue to make progress, and the dispute has been brought under control," Wang told reporters on the sidelines of China's annual meeting of parliament.

"At the moment, the boundary negotiation is in the process of building up small and positive developments," he said. "It's like climbing a mountain: the going is tough, and that is only because we are on the way up."

China lodged an official protest last month when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited one of the border regions in dispute.

China claims the northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, calling it south Tibet. Its historic town Tawang, a key site for Tibetan Buddhism, was briefly occupied by Chinese forces during the 1962 war.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's largely successful trip to India last year was overshadowed by a stand-off between Chinese and Indian troops in Ladakh, another disputed area.

Still, the nuclear-armed neighbors have been trying to move past the issue and concentrate on their broader relationship, which has deep historical roots. Modi is expected to visit China this year.

Wang said he hoped the two countries were able to peacefully coexist so that the "dragon and elephant can dance together".

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel

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