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China-India border dispute

India and China to increase military cooperation after defence talks

Ministers promise to maintain a peaceful border after relations were strained last year in a 73-day face-off in the Himalayas

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 August, 2018, 4:52pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 August, 2018, 4:52pm

India and China have agreed to expand their military ties and enhance interaction to ensure peace on their common border, India said after a meeting between the old rivals’ defence ministers.

Relations between the Asian giants were strained last year over a 73-day military face-off on a remote, high-altitude stretch of their disputed Himalayan border.

But the neighbours have over recent months been working on mending ties and visiting Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week that their countries’ friendship dated back to ancient times.

On Thursday, Wei had extensive discussions with his Indian counterpart, Nirmala Sitharaman, the Indian government said.

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“It was decided to expand the engagement between their armed forces relating to training, joint exercises and other professional interactions,” the government said in a statement issued late on Thursday.

The ministers also discussed their border and agreed to implement “confidence-building measures” to ensure the maintenance of peace, including the early operationalisation of a hotline between their armed forces, India said.

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In their meeting, Wei and Modi also vowed to maintain a peaceful border.

“This visit … will deepen our bilateral military exchanges and cooperation on security, enhance mutual trust and push forward the new development of our military ties to protect peace on the border,” Wei said.

Modi praised the “thousands of years of friendship” between India and China, saying his previous meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping had resulted in good relations.

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India and China fought a war in 1962 and the unresolved dispute over stretches of their 3,500km (2,200 miles) border has clouded relations ever since.

But the two big Asian economies share similar positions on a host of issues including concern about US tariffs, and Xi and Modi agreed in April to improve relations.