India, China to resume joint military exercises (Lead)

September 4th, 2012 - 3:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 4 (IANS) Barely weeks before the once-in-a-decade leadership transition gets under way in Beijing, India and China Tuesday decided to resume joint military exercises after a four-year-gap and boost confidence-building measures in the sensitive border areas.

“We have decided that (to restart military exercises),” Defence Minister A.K. Antony told reporters after delegation-level talks with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Liang Guanglie, who is on a four-day visit to India. This is the first visit by a Chinese defence minister to India in the last eight years.

Joint military exercises between the two countries had started in 2007 but paused in 2010 after a slew of diplomatic spats over visa issues. The two Asian powers, which are often seen as rivals in the Asian hemisphere, held their first joint military exercise in Kunming in China in 2007, followed by a second edition in Belgaum in India in 2008.

India suspended all bilateral defence exercises with China after Beijing denied a visa to the then Northern Army Commander, Lt. Gen. B.S Jaswal on the grounds that he was posted Jammu and Kashmir, a disputed area which is claimed by Pakistan.

The military ties resumed earlier this year with both sides underlining the need for building greater strategic trust.

The two ministers focused on greater confidence building measures and coordination among their militaries in the sensitive border areas, where China has built massive infrastructure on its side of the frontier.

The Chinese side is understood to have allayed New Delhi’s concerns over the military infrastructure build-up along the border and stressed on greater cooperation to avoid misunderstandings.

“We have reached important consensus on strategic issues and for cooperation in promoting friendly ties, including between our armed forces,” Gen. Liang told reporters through an interpreter.

He added the two sides had also reached agreement and consensus on exchanges between their militaries, including high-level visits, between officers and between their navies and also in maritime security cooperation.

The shifting geopolitical regional dynamic also figured prominently in the discussions. “We covered a lot about the situation in the South Asia, Asia-Pacific region and we have covered a lot of issues,” Antony said. “We had a very frank and heart-to-heart discussion on all the issues… including in the border areas.”

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