India, China planning joint army exercise in 2012

India, China planning joint army exercise in 2012

The planning for the exercise will be done at the next round of annual defence consultative talks that the two sides will hold in mid-December when they will also chalk out their bilateral exchanges and interactions, a top Indian Army official told IANS here.

The dates and the scope of the joint exercise will be chalked out during the talks, which are essentially to finalise their year-long bilateral programmes, he said.

If this exercise comes through, sometime late next year, it will be the first such in four years. It will also be the third such war game since the first bilateral exercise in Kunming in China in December 2007.

The second 'Hand-in-Hand' exercise, as war gaming is called by the two sides, was held at Belgaum in Karnataka in December 2008.

Since then, the joint exercise could not take place, first due to celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China in October 2009 and second due to the suspension of bilateral exchanges by India after Lt. Gen B.S. Jaswal, its then Northern Army Commander of troops in Jammu and Kashmir, was denied visa by China in mid-2010.

The bilateral military exchanges resumed in April this year after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Sanya in China for the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) summit.

India then sent its first military delegation to China in over a year when a team led by then Jammu and Kashmir-based Rashtriya Rifles' Delta force commander Major General Gurmeet Singh went to Beijing, Shanghai and Urumqi in June this year.

The reciprocal visit by a Chinese military delegation led by Lt.Gen. Lang Youliang from the Tibet Military Command of Chengdu Military Region was in India for four days last week.

The Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) delegation visited New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai when it got to see various establishments of the Indian Army and held interactions with their counterparts.

"The visit by the PLA delegation has put the defence exchanges between the two countries back on track," was how the Chinese visit was described by the Indian Army, as both sides during their meetings expressed the desire to further promote bilateral defence exchanges and for continuing peace and tranquillity between their troops on the borders.

Ahead of the defence consultative talks, India and China will also hold their 14th round of border talks in New Delhi to carry forward the earlier dialogues to resolve the long-pending boundary dispute.

Beijing's special representative Dai Bingguo will lead the border talks delegation that will meet with the National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon-led Indian delegation.

The border dialogue is the third stage in the talks, which began in 2005 and constituted drawing up a framework for dialogue in its second stage. The third stage will involve both sides trying to implement the framework by arriving at an agreement.