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. India to maintain troop numbers on China border at Nathu La
NEW DELHI (AFP) Jan 03, 2005
India will maintain the number of troops it has at the Nathu La pass on the country's border with China despite a decision by the two Asian giants to open the route for trade, a report said Monday.

"Plans are afoot to set up trade infrastructure at Nathu La. But to talk of troop reduction at this stage would be premature," the Press Trust of India news agency quoted Lieutenant General Arvind Sharma, a senior army officer, as saying.

"This is because the border is not yet demarcated between China and us," Sharma, the chief of the Indian army's eastern command told reporters, in the eastern metropolis of Calcutta.

India and China fought a brief but bitter border war in 1962 that left their relations in shreds. But in recent years they have played down their territorial disputes to focus on improving commercial and other ties.

India's army chief Nirmal Chandra Vij was in China last month for a week long visit, the first such trip in a decade.

The decision to open the Nathu La pass situated 14,500 feet (4,400 metres) high and closed since 1962 was taken in June 2003 when India's then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee travelled to Beijing for talks with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao.

Within months of Vajpayee's visit, a foreign ministry official said China had corrected its official maps to include Sikkim as part of India.

Both sides are presently engaged in discussions to resolve a lingering boundary dispute -- a fall out of the 1962 war - with special representatives of India and China holding several rounds of talks since June 2003.

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