Border dispute with China can be resolved: India PM

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday that he believes a border dispute over an alleged incursion by Chinese soldiers can be resolved, the Press Trust of India reported.

"It is a localised problem, we do believe it can be solved," Dr Singh was quoted as saying by the news agency.

Chinese soldiers were alleged to have intruded across the disputed border in the Ladakh region earlier this month.

India and China have an unresolved boundary dispute, and relations are often prickly - a legacy of a 1962 border war. The alleged incursion has marked a renewal of tensions between the Asian neighbours.

Dr Singh's statement came after India's Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma presented a report on the incident to a parliamentary watchdog on Friday in which local media said he alleged that Chinese soldiers had advanced nearly 20 kilometres into Indian-claimed territory.

The prime minister's comments, his first on the dispute, echoed statements of other government ministers playing down the alleged incursion in the western part of Indian-held Kashmir's Ladakh region and insisting it can be settled amicably.

"We have a plan, we do not want to accentuate the situation," Dr Singh said, without elaborating.

According to officials in New Delhi, a platoon of Chinese troops set up a camp inside Indian territory on April 15.

Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid announced earlier in the week that he will head for China on May 8, saying both countries had a mutual interest in not allowing the dispute to "destroy" long-term progress in ties.

Lower-level talks between military officials have so far failed to break the impasse.

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