India and China have agreed to draft a new bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on defence exchanges and cooperation and increase interactions between their militaries to avoid Doklam-like standoffs, PTI reported on Thursday.
This was decided during talks between Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman and her Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe on Thursday. The two sides also agreed to operationalise a proposed hotline between its armies as part of the confidence-building measures.
“It was decided to expand the engagement between their armed forces relating to training, joint exercises and other professional interactions,” The Indian Express reported quoting a statement issued by the ministry. “Both sides also decided to work towards a new bilateral MoU on defence exchanges and cooperation to replace the MoU signed in 2006.”
Sitharaman and Wei focused on implementing decisions taken at the Wuhan summit in April by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping which included enhancing strategic communication between the two armies.
“It was agreed to work towards full implementation of ongoing confidence-building measures as well as greater interactions at the working level to ensure the maintenance of peace and tranquillity,” the statement said.
Wei and his delegation are on a four-day visit to India with an aim to explore measures to build trust between the armies that were engaged in a 73-day standoff in Doklam in 2017.
Hotline for strategic communication
Sitharaman and Wei agreed that the proposed hotline between the armies of the two countries should be operationalised soon. The Indian and Chinese sides have had differences on matters related to protocol and technical aspect of the hotline.
The Indian Army wants the hotline between its director general of military operations and his equivalent in the Peoples Liberation Army. However, Beijing proposed that the deputy commander of its Chengdu-based Western Theatre Command would engage with the Indian official.