NEW DELHI: In key trust building steps ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to New Delhi later this month, India and China Thursday decided to set up a maritime dialogue and agreed to hold the maiden round of the newly-minted border mechanism in Beijing next week.
The two countries also decided to intensify counter-terror cooperation and collaboration on a host of global issues including the international financial crisis and climate change.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna held delegation-level talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi during which both agreed to sustain the momentum in bilateral ties despite occasional hiccups.
They reviewed the entire bilateral relations and discussed issues that will figure in talks between the Chinese president and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the margins of the BRICS summit here March 29.
This will be the last visit of Hu to India before China goes in for a generational leadership succession expected this autumn. Hu last came in 2006.
Despite the recent verbal sparring triggered by Beijing's objections to Defence Minister A.K. Antony's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, the two foreign ministers stressed on enhancing relations and building trust.
The breakthrough came when the two sides agreed to launch a maritime dialogue, an important step in view of the growing profile of Indian and Chinese navies and the oft-touted scenarios of rivalry in the resource-rich, strategic Indian Ocean between the two maritime powers.
"India and China will set up a maritime dialogue. It is expected to be led by India's external affairs ministry and China's foreign ministry," Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson of India's foreign ministry, told reporters here.
"It was a suggestion from the Chinese side. Both India and China are maritime nations with long coastlines," Gautam Bambawale, joint secretary in charge of China in the external affairs ministry, said.
The spokesperson announced that the first meeting of the working mechanism on border management will be held in Beijing next week.
The border mechanism was sealed after talks between special representatives of India and China at the 15th round of boundary talks last month.
The mechanism is expected to help prevent misunderstanding between the two countries arising from incursion into each other's territory, stemming from the undemarcated Line of Actual Control (LAC).
"The strategic partnership needs to be strengthened," Krishna said after the talks and stressed that bilateral relations were progressing in a "positive direction."
"Every possible issue that is raised whenever India-China dialogue takes place were raised and we have understood each other's position and we have understood the perspective and we will continue to exchange these."
Yang said: "The Chinese government is committed to enhancing the China-India strategic and cooperative partnership."
Alluding to a "multi-faceted, friendly and good-neighbourly relationship", Yang said that the bilateral relationship "promises a broad future."
The two countries also agreed to set up an India-China media forum, with Beijing permitting Zee TV to broadcast in China.
Krishna spoke about imbalance in bilateral trade, which has exceeded $60 billion with a huge surplus in Beijing's favour. He told China to let Indian IT and pharmaceutical companies access to the Chinese market.
The meeting of the foreign ministers was followed by the meeting of a joint working group on a counter-terrorism to explore steps to deal with trans-border militants.
India also briefed the Chinese delegation on the preparations for the fourth BRICS summit of five emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - in New Delhi March 29.
As the two foreign ministers held talks, Tibetan activists protested and raised anti-China slogans outside the Chinese embassy here.
India and China have had 15 rounds of talks to resolve the border dispute, but have not made much headway.