India and China in border defence agreement

image captionIndia and China are keen to ensure that the border spat does not derail a thaw in relations

India and China have signed an agreement on border defence co-operation after a stand-off between their armies in disputed territory earlier this year.

The deal aims to improve communication between the two armies.

The agreement was signed during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Beijing.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said it would help maintain border "peace, tranquillity and stability".

The two countries disagree over the demarcation of several Himalayan border areas and fought a brief war in 1962. Tensions still flare up from time to time.

Both sides are keen to ensure that the spat does not derail a general warming in relations.

"Both Prime Minister Singh and I agree that there are far more common interests than differences between China and India," Mr Li told a joint press conference with Mr Singh.

"China and India are two old civilisations. Our two peoples have the wisdom and our two governments have the ability to manage our disputes along the border so that it won't affect the overall interests of our bilateral relations," the Chinese leader added.

The Indian PM said: "Premier Li and I have agreed that peace and tranquillity on our borders must remain the foundation for growth of the India-China relationship, even as we move forward the negotiations toward a fair, reasonable and mutual acceptable settlement to the India-China boundary question."

The two prime ministers also discussed trade at their Wednesday meeting - India is seeking greater access to Chinese markets and wants to attract Chinese investment.

The two countries signed nine agreements in total, including a deal to strengthen co-operation on trans-border rivers and transport.

China is already one of India's top trading partners and the Asian neighbours are the world's two most populous countries.

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