First after Doklam, Chinese soldiers in India to boost military ties

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New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) In a first such visit after the Doklam stand-off last year, a high-level Chinese army delegation is in India on a five-day visit to boost ties between the militaries of the two countries that remain pitted against each other on disputed border areas.

The 10-member team of the People’s Liberation Army, led by its senior commander Lt. General Liu Xiaowu, the Deputy Chief of its Western Theatre Command, reached here on Monday and met Indian Army Vice Chief Lt. General Devraj Anbu in New Delhi.

The Chinese soldiers on Tuesday left for the 33 Corps Headquarters at Sukna in West Bengal and Eastern Army Command at Kolkata for delegation level talks with their counterparts, an army spokesperson said in a statement. The Indian delegation at Sukna headquarters will be led by Lt. Gen Pradeep M. Bali, GOC Trishakti Corps.

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“This visit is seen as a major initiative to strengthen relationship between the militaries of both nations.”

It comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping for an informal summit at Wuhan on April 27-28.

The spokesperson said the visit of the 10 senior Chinese military officials was “in consonance with the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping during Wuhan summit where both leaders reaffirmed the need to strengthen bilateral ties”.

The two, the spokesperson said, had endorsed the need to resume military ties during the meeting.

“This visit by the military delegation to local military headquarters is a significant step forward towards increasing interactions at military commanders’ level and implementation of various agreements to maintain peace and tranquility on the borders.”

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The visit assumes significance as the 33 Corps guards Doklam area at the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction, where the two countries were involved in a 73-day military standoff last year.

The stand off had erupted after Indian troops halted road construction at Doka La, citing Bhutan’s claim to the area.

The Chinese Army delegation also visited Agra before leaving for Sukna. Besides delegation-level talks, the two sides will interact at various levels for better understanding of each other and exchange of ideas.

The People’s Liberation Army delegation will depart for Kolkata on July 5.

India and China have long-pending border disputes even as the two sides after the Wuhan meeting reaffirmed their commitment to fully operationalize the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) they signed in October 2013.

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The two neighbours share over 4,000-km long boundary stretching from Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh. There are 23 areas of dispute along the de facto border also known as Line of Actual Control.

–IANS

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