Seeking to maintain peace and stability on the Line of Actual Control in the backdrop of the PLA incursion in Ladakh,India and China today agreed that “strategic communication” is required for building mutual trust even as they agreed to resume joint-army exercises.
During the delegation-level talks between Defence Minister A K Antony and his Chinese counterpart Gen Chang Wanquan here,the two sides agreed that they will make joint efforts to maintain peace and tranquillity on the borders and take measures to strengthen communication and coordination at various levels between the border guarding forces.
On the issue of the Chinese incursion into Depsang Valley in April,Antony said,”when we are discussing for a long time we will discuss everything. Outcome is very important. In discussions,everything will be discussed. But the outcome is very positive”.
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Asked whether he took up the hostile comments made by a Major General of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Luo Yuan,Antony said,”My discussions were with official people. Very detailed delegation level dialogue with the Defence Minister,and with the Premier also.
“The PM again reiterated,the new leadership in China,he told me,gives much importance to strengthening and expanding the relations with India”.
The General had yesterday accused India of occupying 90,000 sq km of territory and cautioned New Delhi not to “provoke” China by increasing the military deployment at the border to “start new trouble”.
Antony said Chinese Premier felt that in the emerging scenario,India and China can play a major role and “we must play a role together for the betterment of the two countries,prosperity of people of two countries and betterment of region and peace and stability”.
He told me that he consciously decided on India as his first overseas destination after assuming office as Prime Minister of China,Antony said referring to Li’s visit in May.
“This was to send a signal to everybody that the new Chinese leadership wants very cordial and friendly relations with India and they want to jointly work with India for prosperity of their nation and also other countries”,he said.
Meanwhile,an Indian Defence Ministry spokesperson said here that,”In the discussions between the two defence ministers,measures to promote mutual trust and confidence building between the armed forces were discussed.
“It was agreed that ‘strategic communication’ is required for building trust and understanding,” he said.
The stress on the need for maintaining peace along the LAC comes against the backdrop of the Depsang valley incursion incident in May when the Chinese troops had pitched their tents 19kms inside Indian territory for over three weeks.
Antony is on a four-day official visit here and in his meeting with the Chinese premier,the Defence Minister said India looks forward to “building the relationship (with China) further on a foundation of mutual trust and confidence and based on mutual respect for each other’s concerns”.
On Li’s statement that China’s new leadership attaches importance to developing friendly and cooperative ties with India,Antony said New Delhi reciprocates the sentiment.
In the Defence Minister-level meetings,both sides discussed a number of issues relating to bilateral defence relations,exchanges and interactions between the Ministries of Defence and armed forces of both countries and the regional and international security situation.
In the meeting,”it was acknowledged that the border issue is a remnant of history which both sides are making efforts to resolve and it was agreed that the Special Representatives mechanism should continue to work towards a solution”.
The measures discussed for practical cooperation included third joint India-China Army-to-Army exercise to be held here in October.
“Both sides have also agreed that the Navies and Air Forces of both countries will also undertake enhanced professional exchanges,,” the Defence Ministry said.
Armies of India and China held their first exercises in 2007 at Belgaum in Karnataka with plans to hold such events annually.
Similar exercises were held in 2008 at China’s Kunming city.
The drills were later disrupted over China’s new policy of granting visas on piece of paper to residents of Jammu and Kashmir even denied visas to a top General Northern Command after which India called off military contacts.
Antony was assisted by the Indian Ambassador S Jaishankar,Defence Secretary R K Mathur; Eastern Army Commander Lt General Dalbir Singh,Southern Naval Commander,Vice Admiral Satish Soni and other officials of the Defence Ministry.
After the meetings today,Antony is expected to have further meetings in Beijing and will also be visiting the Chinese National Defence University and an Air Force unit in Tianjin.
Though both Li and Gen Wang met Antony today,no meetings were expected with the Chinese President Xi Jinping,which was of surprise as Xi holds the all powerful office of the head of the Chinese military as Chairman of the Military Commission.
Chinese officials explained that it was due to pre-occupation of the new leader who in recent months emerged as the most powerful holding the posts of President,General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party and the Military.
Xi met Prime Minister,Manmohan Singh in March at the BRICS summit in South Africa.