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India, China to resume joint military exercises

September 04, 2012


In this handout photograph released by The Indian Defence Ministry on September 4, 2012, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony (L) looks on as China's Defence Minister Liang Guanglie speaks during a meeting at The Ministry of Defence in New Delhi on September 4, 2012. — Photo by AFP

NEW DELHI: Joint military exercises between India and China will be resumed after a four-year gap, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony announced Tuesday after talks in New Delhi with his Beijing counterpart.

The two emerging Asian nations have had an often fractious relationship over their shared border, and they halted joint military exercises in 2008 due to a series of diplomatic spats including over visa issues.

“We have decided that (to restart military exercises),” Antony told reporters following talks with General Liang Guanglie, the first Chinese defence minister to visit Delhi in eight years.

“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.”

The disputed border between India and China has been the subject of 14 rounds of fruitless talks since 1962, when the two nations fought a brief, bloody war over the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

China's buildup of military infrastructure along the frontier has become a major source of concern for India, which increasingly sees Beijing as a longer-term threat to its security than Pakistan.

“We have reached a consensus on high-level visits and exchange of personnel, maritime security...and cooperation between the two navies,” Guanglie said after Tuesday's talks.

“I had candid and practical discussion with the defence minister,” he added.

Guanglie's four-day visit comes amid India's fears about increased Chinese activity in countries such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh which New Delhi sees as within its sphere of influence.

The presence of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala is another cause of prickly relations between the two nations.

Heavy security on Tuesday prevented demonstrations by Tibetan exiles living in New Delhi.