India-China armies to resume joint military exercises

Ending their hiatus in defence cooperation, India and China today agreed to resume their joint military exercises and expand their exchanges to include Armies, Navies and Air Forces of the two countries.

This was decided at the fifth Annual Defence Dialogue (ADD) held here today when an Indian tri services delegation headed by Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma held talks with Chinese delegation headed by Deputy Chairman of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Lt Gen Qi Jianguo.

Significant aspect of the two-day talks was that the decision by the forces to resume joint military exchanges which were stalled in 2009 after two rounds of anti-terrorism drills due to differences over visa issues.

The two sides agreed upon a plan of bilateral military exchanges for 2013, including their next joint military exercise, a press release issued by the Indian Embassy here after the talks said.

Both militaries discussed bilateral, regional and international issues of common interest including their assessments of the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region and in the India-China border areas, it said.

Also, the two sides agreed to expand bilateral exchanges covering the Armies, Navies and Air Forces of the two countries. It would facilitate separate talks between the three wings.

"They agreed to advance mutual strategic trust and enhance mutually beneficial practical cooperation," the release said.

Both sides reviewed ongoing measures to ensure peace and tranquility on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) "since this is a strategic understanding between the two governments", it said, adding that talks were in a friendly and cooperative atmosphere and a forward-looking manner.

This is the first ADD meeting being held after the once-in-a-decade leadership change in China. Xi Jinping, who was elected as the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) has taken over as the new military Chief and the Chinese military command has also undergone a number of changes.

Ahead of his retirement, Dai was keen to put on record the progress achieved in the border talks to enable his successors to begin where he left.

The border talks are currently in second stage of the three-stage process which had been agreed to in the beginning.

The first stage was to work out the guiding principles which resulted in the 2005 agreement on the political parameters and guiding principles for boundary settlement.
The second stage is aimed at working out a framework for boundary settlement.

Once the framework is in place, the two sides would settle for "actual business of drawing boundary that is fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable," Menon said last month.

The two sides also said that they made "considerable progress" on bilateral relations without letting the boundary dispute come in the way. They ensured that the boundary remained peaceful.

Dai and Menon are also expected to discuss initiatives to give a fillip to the ties in the backdrop of a new leadership taking over in China, headed by Vice President Xi Jinping.

Xi, who succeeded Hu Jintao as leader of the ruling CPC, is to take over as President in March when Hu formally retires.    His second in command Li Keqiang is due to take over as Premier, succeeding Wen Jiabao.

The Dai-Menon meeting will be followed by the visit of a high-level Indian delegation, headed by Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma, to Beijing to take part in the fifth round of the annual India-China Defence Dialogue on January 14-15.

This is the first such meeting after the reshuffle of the high command of the Chinese military, which is now headed by Xi and a new set of Generals.

Officials from all the three services are expected to be part of it.

The Indian delegation's visit comes in the backdrop of two countries activating their new bilateral boundary mechanism last year to prevent any flare-ups between the two armies while patrolling the disputed areas.

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