India and China held a day long dialogue with a declared objective to settle the border issue and improve relations. It is not known whether the delegations led by Eric Gonsalves, secretary, External Affairs Ministry and by the Chinese vice foreign minister Han Nianlong had an agreed agenda or format for the talks, the first formal discussions in 21 years. The Indian Ambassador, KS Bajpai said the talks would probably last till Sunday. Sources said the talks were held in a “cordial and purposeful” atmosphere and at the outset, both sides expressed a desire to settle the border problem and expand bilateral relations.
The Prime Minister has agreed to associate opposition leaders with the talks between central ministers and leaders of the Assam movement in a bid to find an acceptable solution to the complex issue of foreign nationals. The government will soon hold a meeting with a “small group of opposition leaders” and representatives of the All Assam Students Union and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad to sort out the problem. The decision to make “combined efforts” was taken at a two-hour meeting, Indira Gandhi and her senior cabinet colleagues had with leaders of opposition groups in Parliament on Thursday evening.
The much awaited expansion of the Darbara Singh Ministry was effected on Thursday afternoon with the swearing-in of two cabinet rank ministers, five ministers of state and a deputy minister, raising its strength to 16. The supporters of Union home minister, Zail Singh, and the Minister of State for Shipping and Transport, Buta Singh boycotted the swearing-in. The Chief Minister distributed the portfolios to the new minister, and reshuffled the portfolios of some present ministers.