China angered by Indian minister's remarks on border

China angered by Indian minister's remarks on borderBeijing - China on Tuesday expressed anger at Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee's statement that a disputed Himalayan border region was an "integral part of India."

"We deeply regret the Indian side's remarks, which take no regard of the historical facts," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said after Mukherjee's weekend visit to the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Qin said China would express its position to India "in an appropriate way," after Mukherjee on Sunday claimed that China was "fully aware that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India."

"China and India have never officially settled demarcation of borders, and China's stance on the eastern section of China-India borders is consistent and clear-cut," Qin told reporters.

"China is willing to find a solution that is fair, reasonable and acceptable to the two sides through peaceful and friendly negotiation in the spirit of mutual understanding and adjustment," he said.

India and China established a joint working group in 1988 to find a solution to the border disagreements. They still dispute large areas along their 4,000-kilometre border after a brief border war fought in the Himalayas in 1962.

They have held 12 rounds of talks, the latest in September, since they appointed special representatives in 2003 to explore solutions to their long-standing border disputes.

China occupies part of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region with India accusing Pakistan of illegally ceding it to Beijing.

India alleges that China illegally occupies 43,000 square kilometres of land in Kashmir while China has laid claim to large parts of Arunachal Pradesh and earlier claimed Sikkim.

But booming two-way trade and increased dialogue between the countries has significantly improved bilateral relations in the past few years.

During former Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit to China in June 2003, India said it recognized the Tibet region as an autonomous part of China and Beijing recognized Sikkim as part of India. (dpa)

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