India and China agree to resume military drills at the ‘earliest’

6 September 2012 (Last Updated September 6th, 2012 03:50)

The Indian and Chinese defence ministries have agreed to resume bilateral military exercises after a four year hiatus, in an effort to further expand defence cooperation.

The Indian and Chinese defence ministries have agreed to resume bilateral military exercises after a four year hiatus, in an effort to further expand defence cooperation.

Following a 90-minute delegation level meeting with Chinese defence minister general Liang Guanglie, Indian defence minister A K Antony was quoted by Deccan Herald as saying that the next round of army exercise, dubbed 'Hand-in-Hand', will take place at the earliest opportunity.

"They agreed to strengthen border security cooperation between the border troops of the two sides, to enhance and maintain peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas."

Antony added the two countries would be working out a mutually convenient time and venue for the platoon-level exercise.

All bilateral defence exchanges, including military drills between the two nations, were called off by India in 2010 after Beijing refused to grant a visa to its former Northern Army commander lieutenant general B S Jaswal.

The first exercise was held in 2007 in Kunming, China, followed by the second at Belgaum, India, in 2008, while the third to be held in China in 2010 was put on hold.

According to a defence ministry spokesman, the two sides also reached an agreement on a multitude of issues associated with defence and military exchanges and cooperation, which are to be conducted ein the near future.

"They agreed to strengthen border security cooperation between the border troops of the two sides, to enhance and maintain peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas," the spokesman added.

Liang was quoted by The Hindu as saying: "We have reached the very important consensus of further promoting the friendly, strategic and cooperated partnership between the two countries and promoting friendly exchanges and cooperation between the two armed forces."

Liang is currently on a five-day official visit to India, which is the first by a Chinese defence minister since March 2004.