by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 06, 2013
The Chinese and Indian defence chiefs agreed Saturday to strengthen "peace and tranquility" along their frontier, state media reported, as the countries work to keep tensions in a disputed border area in check.
"The ministers emphasised the importance of enhancing mutual trust and understanding between the two militaries," General Chang Wanquan of China and A.K. Antony of India said in a joint statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency.
"They reviewed the working of agreements and protocols dealing with the maintenance of peace and tranquility and directed that it be further strengthened."
Antony has been on a high-profile visit to China since late Thursday, the first by an Indian defence minister in seven years.
The trip comes after the countries, which fought a brief war in 1962, engaged in a stand-off in May over troop movements in a disputed Himalayan border region.
The two sides also agreed to wrap up negotiations for a proposed accord on border defence cooperation, according to the statement.
"Visits of border troop delegations would be enhanced to promote dialogue and strengthen trust and cooperation," the statement said.
The two sides will also increase the number and locations of meetings of personnel at their border, it said.
The statement came after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told Antony on Friday that the countries have the political will to solve border issues, state television reported.
New Delhi alleged Chinese troops intruded nearly 20 kilometres (12 miles) into Indian-claimed territory, triggering three weeks of tension that was resolved after talks between local military leaders, and a withdrawal of troops from both sides.
Antony's trip is the latest in a recent series of high-level mutual visits aimed at cooling tensions.
Li, visiting New Delhi in May, pledged to build trust with India, declaring that ties between the Asian giants were key to world peace.
He made India the first destination on his first foreign visit since China's leadership change in March. He said the choice showed the importance Beijing attached to ties with New Delhi.
The two countries, both nuclear armed and with populations exceeding one billion people each, cooperate economically as members of the so-called BRICS emerging group along with Brazil, Russia and South Africa.
Last month, India's National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon held negotiations on the boundary issue with his counterparts in Beijing.
According to the joint statement, the two sides will also increase ship visits by their navies and high-level visits by their air forces.
Also Saturday, Antony and Yang Jiechi, a top Chinese foreign policy official, held talks and said both countries should work together to ensure peace along the border, Xinhua reported.
Yang, a member of the State Council, or cabinet, is an influential figure in diplomatic policy who served until March as foreign minister.
Yang told Antony that both sides should make efforts to preserve peace and tranquility in their border areas, the report said.
Antony echoed Yang, saying India was willing to work with China towards such a purpose, Xinhua said.
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