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NEW DELHI, July 11: China supports the continuing efforts by the United States and Britain to ease tensions between India and Pakistan, and said on Thursday it would discuss the issue later this week with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw when he visits Beijing.

The Press Trust of India, in a dispatch from Beijing, quoted Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao as saying: “We hope the two sides could resume dialogues at an early date and settle the differences, including the issue of Kashmir through peaceful means.”

Noting that recently the India-Pakistan tension had eased somewhat, Liu said the situation between the two sides is still dangerous. “If the two sides make further efforts to de-escalate the tension, we will support such efforts,” Liu said.

Asked to comment on the efforts by the international community, especially the United States and Britain, he said China has supported these efforts to relax tensions between India and Pakistan.

He also said that China and Britain would discuss the situation in South Asia during the upcoming visit of Straw to Beijing.

The two sides will have an exchange of views on the regional issue. It will be conducive to the settlement of relevant issues, he added.

China’s closely-watched endorsement of a peace role in South Asia appeared to be specific to the situation between India and Pakistan. However, Beijing is believed to be warily watching the other aspect of developing ties between India and the United States, and indeed with Pakistan, too.

The Times of India reported on Thursday that as part of the rapidly expanding India-US defence ties after the post-Pokhran-II chill, several more joint military exercises between the two countries are being planned.

The idea is to enhance “inter-operability” between the defence forces of the two sides. “Take terrorism, for instance. There is a convergence of interest in devising measures to thwart it,” the newspaper quoted a defence ministry official as saying.

The decision to progressively increase the scope and content of the joint exercises was taken forward during IAF chief Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy’s recent visit to the US. At least five more joint exercises are to take place in the near future, say defence officials.

The two countries are also stepping up cooperation in the exchange of experts and various specialized delegations in fields like intelligence sharing, flight safety and logistics. Four IAF officers, for instance, are now participating as observers in the on-going US Air Force exercise in Alaska named “Operation Cope Thunder”.