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Chinese, Soviets Agree on Committees to Review Borders

August 22, 1987

BEIJING (AP) _ China and the Soviet Union ended a second round of border talks Friday with a communique saying groups of experts would be created to review disputes and provide principles for river boundaries.

Deputy Soviet Foreign Minister Igor Rogachev said ″we have reason to believe they (the talks) were fruitful,″ but he acknowledged difficulties remain.

A major issue is defining the eastern sector of the border that was the scene of battles in 1969 along the Amur and Ussuri rivers.

It appeared the two sides also could not agree on the possibility of reaching separate agreements dealing with sections of the 4,650-mile border.

Rogachev said he hoped such agreements could be made, but Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Qian Qichen said ″there can be no separate agreements. We must have the whole.″

The communique, released by the official Xinhua News Agency, said both sides ″stand for a reasonable settlement of the question concerning the boundary in the eastern sector on the basis of the existing relevant treaties.″

It also said the negotiators agreed ″the middle line of the main navigational channel shall be the boundary in the case of a navigable river and the midstream line of the river or the middle line of the main stream shall be the boundary in the case of an unnavigable river.″

Xinhua said joint committees of experts would discuss specific matters concerning the alignment of the entire eastern sector.

No date was set for the next meeting.

The border talks resumed in February in Moscow. They had been suspended by China after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in December 1979 to help that country’s Marxist government fight rebels. The Soviets still have an estimated 115,000 military personnel in Afghanistan.

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev helped restart the talks when he stated last year that the Soviet Union conceded the boundary along the Amur and Ussuri should go down the middle of the rivers rather than along the Chinese side as the Soviets had previously insisted.

He also called on the two Communist powers to put aside past differences and improve relations. The border talks are one sign of warming ties.

Update hourly