New Delhi: India and China are in talks to establish a hotline between the two defence ministries as part of confidence-building measures, a top People’s Liberation Army (PLA) official said. That would mean updating a 12-year-old defence agreement, reported PTI. The discussion was part of the meeting between Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe and his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi last week. The meeting also discussed how to implement the consensus reached between Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Wu Qian said.
During their first-ever informal summit in April, PM Modi and President Xi had agreed on managing various aspects of India-China relations, including the two militaries, especially in the backdrop of the Doklam standoff. The hotline between the two militaries _ Indian Army and PLA _ was regarded as a major Confidence Building Measure as it would allow both the headquarters better communication to avert tensions between border patrols. Tensions between India and China had peaked during a 73-day standoff in Doklam over Beijing’s construction of a road in the area.
Wu said both the countries are also holding talks for a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the defence ministries. “In 2006, India and China signed an MoU on defence exchanges and cooperation. The Indian side conveyed its willingness to sign a new version of the MoU. China holds a positive attitude towards it and the two sides are in communication with each other,” Wu said. “If the dragon and elephant dance together, they will both gain and it will help Asia continue to be prosperous. If they compete and fight with each other, it will benefit neither but others,” he said.
He said Wei had extended an official invitation to Sitharaman to visit China. Wei’s talks with the Indian leaders focussed on “how to deepen security and military exchanges and cooperation and how to strengthen defence confidence-building measures”. “They also talked about setting up a hotline on border issues between adjacent military commands. They also talked about how to better play the role of defence and security consultations mechanism and the meeting mechanism between the working delegations of the defence ministries,” Wu said, replying to a question on how China views the outcome of Wei’s visit to India. (With PTI inputs)