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Tuesday, 9 January, 2001, 15:51 GMT
Li Peng arrives for India tour
Li Peng being greeted on arrival in Bombay
Li Peng being greeted on arrival in Bombay
By Satish Jacob in Delhi

Senior Chinese politician Li Peng has arrived in the western Indian city of Bombay on the first leg of a nine-day goodwill visit.

The trip is aimed at improving relations, which received a setback when India carried out nuclear tests two and a half years ago.

China is India's biggest and most powerful neighbour, but relations between the two have never been very good after the two countries fought a bitter border war in 1962.

Indian soldiers
A longstanding border dispute persists
Li Peng, chairman of China's parliament, the National People's Congress, is leading a high-level, 118-member delegation to India.

Apart from meeting senior Indian leaders, such as the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Li Peng is going to meet a number of people from different walks of life.

Border dispute

Sources close to the Indian foreign office say Li Peng's visit is not going to make much difference on matters of state, but it would certainly help improve relations.

The two countries have made progress in trade and cultural relations following an agreement signed between the two countries about 12 years ago.

But efforts to make a breakthrough in their long-standing border dispute haven't succeeded yet.

China has accused India of illegally occupying about 90,000 square kilometres of its territory in Arunachal Pradesh, in its north-east region.

And India says that China forcibly occupied nearly 40,000 square kilometres of its territory in the Aksai Chin region during the 1962 war.

China says that it is willing to give up the occupied land in Aksai Chain, provided India gives up its claim on Arunachal Pradesh.

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See also:

09 Jan 01 | Media reports
Indian press cool on China ties
03 Apr 00 | South Asia
India and China still wary
07 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
China presses India on nuclear weapons
22 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
China and India sign trade deal
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