China, India have will to solve border dispute: Li

BEIJING (AFP) - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told India's defence minister on Friday that the two countries can settle a long-running border row, state media reported.

Both sides have the political will to solve their border issues and create a peaceful and stable environment, Mr Li told Mr AK Antony, according to Friday evening's main state TV news broadcast.

Mr Antony is making a three-day visit to China, the first by a defence chief from the South Asian giant in seven years.

His trip comes after the neighbours, which fought a brief war in 1962, engaged in a stand-off in May over troop movements in a disputed Himalayan border region.

Delhi alleged that Chinese troops intruded nearly 20km into Indian-claimed territory, triggering three weeks of tension that was resolved after talks between local military leaders, and a withdrawal of troops from both sides.

Just ahead of Mr Antony's scheduled arrival on Thursday, an outspoken Chinese general known for his nationalist views issued a warning to India over the dispute.

"The Indian side should not provoke new problems and increase military deployment at the border areas and stir up new trouble," Major General Luo Yuan told reporters.

The overall trend, however, appears to be for constructive dialogue on the issue. Mr Antony's trip is the latest in a recent series of high-level mutual visits.

Mr Antony told Mr Li that the development of India and China's friendship will benefit the world, according to the state TV broadcast.

Mr Li, visiting New Delhi in May, pledged to build trust with India, declaring that ties between the Asian giants were key to world peace.

He made India the first destination on his first foreign visit, since China's leadership change in March, which he said showed the importance that Beijing attached to ties with Delhi.

The two countries, both nuclear armed and with populations exceeding one billion people each, cooperate economically as member of the so-called BRICS emerging group along with Brazil, Russia and South Africa.

Last month, India's National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon held negotiations on the boundary issue with his counterparts in Beijing.

Mr Antony's trip overlaps with a visit to Beijing by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan - India's key rival but a close ally of China. The trip is PM Sharif's first foreign visit since winning election in May.