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'India is an important neighbor'

By Zhao Yanrong | China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-06 07:11

Li's meeting with defense minister boosts military, border ties

China and India both have the political will to properly resolve border issues through dialogue and consultation, and the cooperation between the two countries in maintaining peace, tranquility and stability in border areas can provide favorable conditions for the two countries' development, Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday.

Li made the remarks when meeting the visiting Indian Defense Minister A. K. Antony in Beijing.

The expansion of military exchange and cooperation between China and India could play an active role in the development of the Sino-Indian strategic partnership, he added.

Li also said China and India are important partners and neighbors. The two countries' harmonious relationship and common development is a blessing for Asia, and conducive to world peace, stability and development.

China is willing to work with India to enhance strategic mutual trust, expand practical cooperation and improve ties to a higher level, he added.

Antony's trip is the first by an Indian defense minister in the past seven years.

He said Li's recent trip to India is historic and a milestone in bilateral relations, which has left a deep impression for Indian people.

'India is an important neighbor'

"Leaders from India and China have reached an important consensus of developing bilateral relations, cooperation in various fields, and maintaining peace and tranquility in the border areas. India is willing to make joint efforts with China to promote the comprehensive development of bilateral relations," Antony said.

Antony also met his Chinese counterpart, Chang Wanquan, State Councilor and minister of National Defense.

According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, China and India will hold a joint anti-terrorism military exercise in the second half of this year, and there will be exchanges between the two countries' young military officers by the end of 2013.

"Both countries have paid much attention to the relationship of their defense authorities. The two sides are seriously carrying out the agreements reached by our leaders, to enhance mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation and to strengthen peace and stability in border areas," Hua said at a daily news conference.

Antony's trip is a great opportunity to enhance mutual understanding between the two countries' militaries, and more communication is desirable in the development of bilateral ties, Chinese experts said.

"Visiting China can help the Indian defense minister understand us better," said Sun Shihai, an expert on Indian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

According to Sun, the Indian military has lingering skepticism about China's strategy and Chinese attitudes toward the Sino-Indian border issue, so the trip can help boost Antony's confidence in China.

The two countries have signed agreements on border issues, on which the militaries can play a very important role, Sun said.

"The border issue will not be solved overnight, but more communication is important and strongly needed to build mutual trust," he added.

Since China and India both face terrorism challenges, the joint anti-terrorism military exercise can serve the countries' common interests, Sun said.

Ma Jun, a researcher at the Academy of Military Science of the People's Liberation Army, was on an exchange program to India for two years. He said the exchange and understanding between the two countries' young military officers is very important.

"We had training together with young Indian military officers every day. Gradually we had a much better mutual understanding and even made good friends.

"Therefore, enhancing the military exchange is crucial," Ma added.

He said Antony's trip is a positive sign for Sino-Indian relations.

Before the Indian defense minister's arrival, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also arrived in Beijing. Li held a welcoming ceremony for Sharif on Friday.

China has good relationships with both India and Pakistan, and China plays a constructive role in the regional security issue in South Asia. In the past two years, China worked hard to ease tensions between India and Pakistan, Ma said.

"China's development requires a stable environment with its neighbors. Building a good India-Pakistan relationship is in line with China's interests," he added.

(China Daily 07/06/2013 page7)

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