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PM meets Chinese defence minister, says differences should not become disputes

August 21, 2018 23:06 IST

According to official sources, the primary objective of Wei's visit is to deliberate with Indian defence establishment on implementation of decisions taken by Modi and Xi in their informal summit in Wuhan in April.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Defence Minister of China, General Wei Fenghe during a meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday, August 21, 2018. Photograph: Press Information Bureau

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said India and China are handling their differences with "sensitivity and maturity" by not allowing them to become disputes and this was evident from peace in border areas.

Modi also termed India-China relations as a factor of stability in the world and appreciated the increased momentum of high-level contacts between the two countries across all spheres, including in areas of defence and military exchanges.

 

He made these remarks when State Councillor and Defence Minister of China General Wei Fenghe called on him in New Delhi on Tuesday, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.

"Terming India-China relations as a factor of stability in the world, the prime minister said that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas is indicative of the sensitivity and maturity with which India and China handle their differences, not allowing them to become disputes," the PMO said.

Prime Minister Modi also warmly recalled his recent meetings with President Xi Jinping in Wuhan, Qingdao and Johannesburg.

The Chinese defence minister's four-day visit to India, beginning on Tuesday, is being seen as a significant development by officials on both sides to improve communications and atmospherics between militaries of the two countries after last year's 73-day Doklam standoff.

According to official sources, the primary objective of Wei's visit is to deliberate with Indian defence establishment on implementation of decisions taken by Modi and Xi in their informal summit in Wuhan in April, including for improving mutual trust and avoid repeat of any Doklam-like face-offs.

In the summit, Modi and Xi had resolved to open a new chapter in ties and had directed their militaries to boost coordination along the border, months after the most serious military faceoff in decades between the two nuclear-armed neighbours in Doklam triggered fears of a war.

Wei, who is a key member in China's State Council -- the executive organ of China's central government -- is scheduled to hold restricted as well as delegation-level talks with Sitharaman on Wednesday, focus of which will be to remove distrust and boost coordination between the armies of the two neighbours guarding their disputed border, official sources said.

In the delegation level talks, the Indian side is likely to raise the issue of presence of sizeable number of Chinese troops in North Doklam.

Doklam, in the Sikkim sector, is a strategically important area which is claimed by Bhutan. India has been acting as security guarantor to the tiny country in the sensitive region.

The two sides are likely to deliberate on a mechanism under which troops from both sides will inform each other before carrying out any patrolling on the disputed areas along the nearly 4,000-km border.

The sources said both sides will also attempt to resolve differences in setting up of a hotline between the armies of the two countries.

The Indian Army has been maintaining that the hotline should be between its Director General of Military Operations and his equivalent official in Peoples Liberation Army (PLA). However, Beijing proposed that the deputy commander of its Chengdu-based Western Theatre Command would engage with the Indian DGMO.

The Indian Army is opposed to the Chinese proposal, insisting that an officer equivalent to Indian DGMO at PLA's headquarters should be deputed for the communication through the hotline.

Currently, India and Pakistan have a hotline between their DGMOs.The hotline between India and China was first mooted by the two countries in 2013.

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