New Delhi: In his first visit to India following the Doklam standoff last year, China’s Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday and discussed several important issues.
PM Modi said the maintenance of peace in the border areas is indicative of the maturity with which the two neighbours have handled their differences and did not allow them to become disputes. Modi appreciated the increased momentum of high-level contacts between India and China in all spheres, including in the areas of defence and military exchanges.
“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 statement said.
PM Modi also warmly recalled his recent meetings with President Xi Jinping in Wuhan, Qingdao and Johannesburg.
Fenghe will also hold crucial talks with his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman. The meeting comes in the backdrop of China’s People’s Liberation Army reported instance of incursion in the Indian territory earlier in August.
Considered to be an important meet by officials on both sides, the bilateral talks between the two defence ministers will focus on improving relations in all areas including the military sphere.
This is their second meeting this year as Sitharaman met him during her visit to Beijing in April to take part in the defence ministers’ meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
Gen Wei’s visit is regarded as a full-fledged bilateral visit aimed at solidifying military ties in the larger improvement of relations after this year’s informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping, reported news agency PTI.
“For some time, you would have noticed that China-India relations are improving steadily. Exchanges and cooperation in all areas have moved forward including the military to military exchanges,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang while briefing the media about Gen Wei’s four-day visit to India.
While no agreements are expected during Gen Wei’s visit, officials said that it is aimed at improving communication between the two militaries at the highest level as well as the atmospherics which would send a positive signal to the troops on the ground along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control.
Last month, a top US official said that China has quietly resumed its activities in the Doklam area and neither Bhutan nor India has sought to dissuade it.
Alice G Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, said Beijing has resumed actions in the Himalayan region with its manoeuvres in the disputed South China Sea. China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims.