India, China agree to strengthen defence cooperation
Nirmala Sitharaman and her Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe held a bilateral meeting on Thursday and stressed on strengthening defence cooperationindia Updated: Aug 23, 2018 22:58 IST
India and China on Thursday held wide-ranging talks to improve their bilateral military relationship, including speedier operationalisation of a hotline between their armed forces and inking a new agreement on defence exchanges and cooperation, a defence ministry spokesperson said.
India also asked China not to doubt its intentions behind infrastructure development in border areas, though China emphasised this must not harm its ‘national interests’, said an official familiar with the development.
During the delegation-level talks held a year after the Doklam border standoff, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Chinese minister of national defence and a member of the Central Military Commission General Wei Fenghe also decided to expand the scope of engagement between the two militaries in the areas of training, joint exercises and other professional interactions, the ministry said in a statement.
The Chinese side suggested the setting up of two or three hotlines instead of the one that both sides were discussing earlier, said the official quoted above. HT had earlier reported that India and China were working towards “narrowing down technical differences” over whether the hotline should be between the Director Generals of Military Operations of the two countries or between the commanders who are in charge of the border areas on either side.
The new memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation that the two sides are working towards will replace a 12-year-old previous agreement.
The two ministers welcomed recent exchanges between their armed forces, holding that these had enhanced mutual trust and understanding to implement the consensus reached between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at an informal summit in Wuhan in April earlier this year.
Wei is the highest level Chinese functionary India is hosting after the Wuhan summit.
The Hand in Hand exercise between the two armies is scheduled to take place in China in November, the official said. The two sides also discussed the possibility of opening up more border meeting points along the Line of Actual Control in addition to the current six.?He added there was a proposal from China for coordinated patrols along the LAC but the Indian Army is not keen.
China was also told that it should have zero tolerance for cross-border terrorism, a reference to Pakistan. India also said it would welcome more port visits by Chinese warships as a confidence-building measure.
Military affairs expert Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak (retd) said, “The talks on operationalising the hotline and the MoU are right steps in the direction of sustaining peace and tranquillity along the border and avoiding Doklam-like situations in the future.”
First Published: Aug 23, 2018 19:01 IST