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India, China to explore ways to avoid Doklam-like standoffs

The Chinese defence minister met Modi during which the PM said both the countries are handling their differences with “sensitivity and maturity” by not allowing them to become disputes.

india Updated: Aug 21, 2018 23:37 IST
India-China ties,Doklam,Nirmala Sitharaman
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with defence minister of China, General Wei Fenghe during a meeting in New Delhi on August 21.(PTI Photo)

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe will hold extensive talks on Thursday, focus of which will be to remove distrust and boost coordination between the armies of the two neighbours guarding their disputed border, official sources said.

Wei arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday on a four-day visit, nearly three-and-half months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed that strategic communication between the two armies should be enhanced to avoid Doklam-like standoffs.

The Chinese defence minister met Modi during which the PM said both the countries are handling their differences with “sensitivity and maturity” by not allowing them to become disputes.

Sources said the primary objective of Wei’s visit is to deliberate with Indian defence establishment on implementation of decisions taken by Modi and Xi during the informal summit in Wuhan in April.

In the delegation level talks, the Indian side is likely to raise the issue of presence of sizeable number of Chinese troops in North Doklam.

Doklam, in the Sikkim sector, is a strategically important area which is claimed by Bhutan. India has been acting as security guarantor to the tiny country in the sensitive region.

The two sides are likely to deliberate on a mechanism under which troops from both sides will inform each other before carrying out any patrolling on the disputed areas along the nearly 4,000-km border.

The sources said both sides will also attempt to resolve differences in setting up of a hotline between the armies of the two countries.

After the Wuhan summit, both sides revived the long-pending proposal to set up the hotline so as to avoid flare-ups along the disputed border. But, the initiative hit roadblocks over differences on issues relating to protocol and technical aspect of the hotline.

The Indian Army has been maintaining that the hotline should be between its Director General of Military Operations (DGMOs) and his equivalent official in Peoples Liberation Army (PLA). However, Beijing proposed that the deputy commander of its Chengdu-based Western Theatre Command would engage with the Indian DGMO.

The Indian Army is opposed to the Chinese proposal, insisting that an officer equivalent to Indian DGMO at PLA’s headquarters should be deputed for the communication through the hotline.

Currently, India and Pakistan have a hotline between their DGMOs.The hotline between India and China was first mooted by the two countries in 2013.

First Published: Aug 21, 2018 22:23 IST