India and China have for the first time agreed to set up a minister-level mechanism to tackle and exchange information on terrorism, trans-border crime, drug-trafficking and cyber crime, India’s home minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday.
Guo Shengkun, state councilor and minister for public security (which deals with China’s internal security), will visit India next year to co-chair its first meeting with Singh.
Singh said it was a first for the two countries to set up such a high-level mechanism; the bilateral one working to resolve the disputed border problem is technically a few notches lower in the official hierarchy.
Singh is on a four-day visit to China, the first Indian home minister to do so in a decade.
Officials said that the leadership from both countries felt that “given the current positive momentum in bilateral relations” there was a need to upgrade cooperation in security matters.
“We have agreed to expand our cooperation in combating international terrorism (including) exchange of information on terrorist activities of groups and linkages. We will also exchange experiences on anti-hijacking and hostage situations. We will coordinate our positions on anti-terrorism endeavours in regional and multi-lateral forum,” Indian ambassador AK Kantha told Beijing-based Indian reporters during an interaction with Singh on Thursday night.
Earlier in the day, Singh had a 40-minute meeting with Premier Li Keqiang.
Expectedly, the problem of the unresolved border between the two giant neighbours camp up during the meeting.
“I expressed my worries,” Singh said when asked whether he raised the issue of incursions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
“This issue, I particularly discussed with the Premier. I said these incursions should stop,” Singh said. “Their response was positive. There are working groups that are already working (on the border dispute). I said their work should be made fruitful,” he added.
Elaborating on the new mechanism, Kantha said it will be assisted by a working-level mechanism (to be handled) by a joint-secretary level official from India and director-general level one from China.
It emerged during Singh’s meetings that there was clear recognition on both sides that “terrorism is a common threat; it is a trans-border threat, transnational threat and requires joint response.”
Both Singh and the Indian diplomats present during the interaction with reporters carefully avoided the mention of Pakistan.
“In principle, we have agreed to move towards a new bilateral document which will provide the contours of cooperation in counter-terrorism, security, trans-border crimes and related matters,” Kantha said.