NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India on Monday named its powerful national security adviser as a special envoy on China, opening the way for resumption of talks on the disputed border, where tensions have risen in recent months over border patrols and stiffer defenses.
Ajit Doval, a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will lead the negotiations with Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi to try and reach a settlement on dispute over the 3,500-km (2,175-mile) border that has clouded rapidly expanding commercial links.
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.
Both leaders vowed to work together to resolve the border row that has defied a solution even after 17 rounds of high level talks over the last decade and negotiations even earlier between the diplomats of the two countries.
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. India says China occupies 38,000 square km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.
Doval, a hardliner on national security issues, will conduct boundary negotiations as well as strategic consultations with China, Modi’s office said in a statement.
New Delhi has vowed to beef up defenses along the border to narrow the gap with China’s network of roads and communication links. Beijing has expressed concern about India’s plan to build roads and border outposts in Arunachal Pradesh in the east, which it refers to as south Tibet.
Indian officials say Chinese border patrols have been intruding deeper into their side of the de facto border, in a sign of assertiveness that has fueled concern in the region.
Reporting by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Clarence Fernandez