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Last Updated: Monday, 19 June 2006, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
India-China trade link to reopen
Nathu La Pass
Trading through the Nathu La Pass will resume after 44 years
China and India have signed an agreement to re-open an ancient trade route which was closed 44 years ago.

Border trade will now resume from 6 July through the Himalayan pass of Nathu La, 4,000 metres (14,000 feet) above sea level.

The Nathu La pass provided a crucial link in the ancient Silk Road through which Indo-Tibetan trade was conducted for centuries.

India and China reached an initial agreement about the pass in 2003.

But the formal deal was signed only on Sunday by officials from the two sides who met in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

The reopening of border trade will help end economic isolation in this area
Hao Peng
Tibet vice-chairman

The Nathu-La pass will be opened just a few days after the first train service starts between eastern China and Tibet.

"The reopening of border trade will help end economic isolation in this area," Tibet government vice-chairman Hao Peng said, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Officials say iron ore, livestock products, wool and electric appliances are among the products that will be traded through the route.

Border disputes

The Nathu La pass was closed in 1962 after war broke out between China and India.

Both sides still have territorial disputes. India accuses China of occupying 32,000 sq.km. (14,670 square miles) of territory in Kashmir, while Beijing lays claim to the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

But last year, China accepted that the tiny state of Sikkim, where Nathu La is located, belongs to India.

Indian officials say the opening of the trade route will go a long way to resolving differences between the two countries.

"The resumption of border trade is a great historic event, not only for enlarging trade, but also for greater relations between the two countries," Indian commerce ministry official, Christy Fernandez, is quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.

The famed Silk Road was an ancient trading route that once connected China with India, West Asia and Europe.

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