March 22, 2015 / 7:03 AM / 3 years ago

Chinese envoy due in India for Himalayan border row talks

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A Chinese envoy will hold talks in India from Sunday aimed at fixing a dispute about the Himalayan border that divides Asia’s largest nations, part of a push to make progress on the festering row before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits China.

China’s special representative, Yang Jiechi, will visit India from Sunday until Tuesday for the eighteenth round of boundary talks, India’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The talks are the first since Modi took office. The nationalist prime minister is keen to resolve the dispute that has clouded rapidly expanding commercial links, and any progress would shed a positive light on his expected visit to Beijing in May.

But there is no simple solution to a conflict that largely dates back to British colonial decisions about Tibet.

The disagreement over the 3,500-km (2,175-mile) border led to a brief war in 1962 and involves large swathes of remote territory.

China lays claim to more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. Much of that forms the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls South Tibet.

India says China occupies 38,000 square km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

In September, the two armies were locked in a faceoff in the Ladakh sector in the western Himalayas just as Chinese President Xi Jinping was visiting India for the first summit talks with Modi.

Yang’s visit to India is at the invitation of Ajit Doval, Modi’s national security adviser and close aide, known to take a hard line on security issues.

Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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