Military drill, defence secretary-level talks set to boost India-China relations

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NEW DELHI: India and China are now set to resume their annual “Hand-in-Hand” (HiH) combat exercise, after it got derailed last year due to the 73-day Doklam stand-off, signalling their intent to step up military-to-military ties and confidence-building measures.

Sources said on Wednesday the “final planning conference” for the 7th edition of HiH exercise, which will be held in China’s Chengdu region in December, is slated for the first week of November. “The conference will finalise the exact dates and modalities for the exercise, which will focus on counter-terror operations. Around 175 soldiers from the 11 Sikh Light Infantry battalion and other arms and services from the Northern Army Command will take part,” said a source.

The defence secretary-level annual dialogue is also slated to be held in December, even as the two countries are now also giving finishing touches to the “operationalisation” of the top-level hotline between their militaries.

The two sides have already decided to work towards reducing troop confrontations along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control.

But while border tensions have reduced since Doklam, the rival troops continue to patrol aggressively to lay claim to disputed areas stretching from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. It was in June last year that the eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation had begun after Indian troops physically blocked an attempt by Chinese soldiers to extend the existing motorable road towards the Jampheri Ridge in south Doklam.

The joint HiH exercise was held for the first at Kunming (China) in 2007.





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