India, China agree on DGMO-level talks on border issues

India and China have agreed to have a meeting between the two Director Generals of Military Operations to thrash out “practical issues” in border management. The two armies will also hold an exercise in India later this year.

“A senior level exchange between the Director Generals of Military Operations would be conducted in India in 2014, during which both sides would discuss practical measures for management of border issues,” a joint statement issued at the conclusion of the 6th annual defence and security dialogue between India and China here on Monday stated.

Both sides agreed to conduct the next joint army exercise in India in 2014 in addition to strengthening naval cooperation.

The third round of India-China joint exercise, named hand-in-hand, was held at Chengdu recently after five years. The first two exercises were held at Kuming in 2007, while the second was held at Belgaum in 2008.

Co-chaired by Defence Secretary R K Mathur and Deputy Chief of General Staff of the People's Liberation Army Lt Gen Wang Guanzhong, the meeting also discussed opening up hot lines between the Army’s northern and eastern command with the corresponding military regions in China. But no decision has been taken yet.

India’s northern and eastern borders with China remain a disputed area where occasional flash-points and transgressions are regularly reported.

The two countries have signed a border defence cooperation agreement with the aim of reducing incidents of tension and flare-ups. The year of 2014 has been designated as the “Year of Friendly Exchange” in which the two nations would expand friendly exchanges between the two armies. India has invited Chinese defence minister for a visit in 2014, which Beijing has accepted.

The dialogue takes place within days of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence red-flagging bottlenecks in India's border infrastructure that pegs the country at a disadvantageous position when compared with China's rapid infrastructure build up close to the border.

Only one of the 27 roads sanctioned eight years ago has been completed and 14 key railway links are still on paper.

The panel has criticised the slow pace of border defence infrastructure. The Ministry of Railways made it clear that it would not be able to proceed with these projects unless either the Defence Ministry or the Finance Ministry arranges funds to the tune of Rs 55,000 crore.

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