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Indian, Chinese Leaders Discuss Border Dispute

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang waves as he is received by Indian junior minister for external affairs, E. Ahamed, right, after he arrived in New Delhi, India, May 19, 2013.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his visiting Chinese counterpart Sunday discussed efforts to resolve a decades-old border dispute between the world's two most populous countries.

Premier Li Keqiang's three-day visit began less than two weeks after the peaceful end of a tense military standoff over disputed territory in the western Himalayas, which was only resolved after a public outcry in India.

The dispute started when India protested what it called a Chinese incursion into the Ladakh region. Tensions subsided when the two sides restored the status quo.

Since then, both countries have made conciliatory moves and indicated that the process of settling their unmarked border should be speeded up. Numerous rounds of talks since the 1990s have made little headway.

China says placing India first on the itinerary of its new premier demonstrates the importance Beijing places on the relationship between the two countries.

Li said China regards India as an important partner and friend and expressed the hope that his visit would inject new vigor into their cooperative partnership.

Although the border dispute will figure more prominently than earlier planned, a significant focus of the visit will be the blossoming ties between the two big, fast-growing Asian economies.

Premier Li will be accompanied by a large business delegation, and will visit the financial hub of Mumbai, where he will meet top executives and visit India's largest Information Technology company (Tata Consultancy Services).

Indian leaders are likely to urge Premier Li to do more to fix the two countries' trade deficit. Although bilateral trade grew to $76 billion last year, there are concerns in India that trade is skewed in China's favor.

New Delhi wants more access for its companies in China's IT and pharmaceutical sectors, where India has an advantage. Indian officials say "they hope for results very soon."

China is India's largest trading partner.