BEIJING (AP) — China and India signed a confidence-building accord Wednesday to cooperate on border defense following a standoff between armed forces of the two Asian giants in disputed Himalayan territory earlier this year.
The agreement followed a meeting in Beijing between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also had trade ties on the agenda as India seeks to gain greater access to Chinese markets and attract inbound Chinese investment.
At present trade between the two sides is heavily skewed in China's favor. With growing economies and a combined population of 2.5 billion, the two neighbors have set a target of $100 billion in bilateral trade by 2015, up from $61.5 billion last year.
The meeting Wednesday will "inject new momentum and vitality into the China-India relationship," Li said.
Relations between the nations are overshadowed by a half-century-old border dispute over which they fought a brief but bloody war in 1962. More than a dozen rounds of talks have failed to resolve the issue, and the two sides had a three-week standoff at their frontier earlier this year.
India alleged that Chinese soldiers launched incursions across the Line of Actual Control at the Himalayan frontier between the sides, though China denied setting foot anywhere but on Chinese territory.
The cooperation accord signed Wednesday is aimed at averting such incidents.
"I am sure it will help to maintain peace, tranquility and stability in our border areas," Li said following the signing at a news conference, at which no questions from reporters were allowed.
China claims around 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of land in India's northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, while India says China is occupying 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the western Himalayas.