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India: Border Disputes Not Easily Resolved


Indian President Abdul Kalam, left, talks to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, right, while Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf listens
India says it is committed to peace and friendship with both Pakistan and China, but territorial disputes with its two neighbors will take time to resolve. The statement follows recent high-profile visits to India by Pakistani and Chinese leaders.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told parliament that India and Pakistan have made significant progress in the peace process that began last year, but the two countries need to build trust and confidence before their differences can be finally resolved.

Mr. Singh's comments came just days after he held talks with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in New Delhi.

"The difficult issues that divide us have bedeviled relations between India and Pakistan for far too long to hope for an immediate resolution,” he said. “The threat to the peace process from extremist forces and terrorist organizations has not been eliminated."

Analysts have welcomed the recent commitment by both leaders to amicably settling conflicting claims to the Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

But they also point out that neither side has changed its core position over the region. New Delhi is against any redrawing of boundaries, while Islamabad does not accept the status quo, which divides the region along a cease-fire line.

India and China also recently agreed to "guiding principles" to resolve a long-running border dispute.

The agreement was signed during Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's visit to India earlier this month, which analysts say marked a major shift in relations between the two Asian giants.

Prime Minister Singh agrees ties between the two have acquired a "global and strategic" character. But he cautions that settling territorial claims with Beijing also will take time.

"Both sides have agreed that an early boundary settlement should be pursued as a strategic objective,” he added. “While this understanding is of great significance, we do acknowledge that we are still quite some distance away from a final boundary settlement."

India's territorial disputes with China and Pakistan have marred ties with both countries for decades. Two of India's three wars with Pakistan were fought over Kashmir. Border disagreements also triggered a brief war with China in 1962.

While relations with China have improved significantly in the past few years, ties between India and Pakistan are improving much more slowly, but most observers think that they too are "headed in the right direction."

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