India and China announced they would resume joint military exercises after a four-year gap, a move designed to build trust in the often prickly relationship between the world's two most populous nations.
After Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony hosted talks with his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie, the men told reporters they had debated some of the main sources of friction between the two sides and agreed a series of measures.
“We have decided to restart military exercises,” Antony told reporters following his meeting with Liang, the first Chinese Defence Minister to visit the Indian capital in 8 years.
“We covered a lot about the situation in the South Asia, Asia-Pacific region. We had a very frank and heart-to-heart discussion on all the issues... including in the border areas.”
The disputed border between India and China has been the subject of 14 rounds of fruitless talks since 1962, when the two nations fought a brief, bloody war over the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
China's buildup of military infrastructure along the frontier has become a major source of concern for India, which increasingly sees Beijing as a longer-term threat to its security than traditional rival Pakistan.
The two Asian giants have had an often fractious relationship over their shared border, and they halted joint military maneuvers after 2008 due to a series of diplomatic spats including over visa issues.
But Liang said there was now a mutual desire to move forward.
“We have reached a consensus on high-level visits and exchange of personnel, maritime security... and cooperation between the two Navies,” Liang said after last week’s talks.
Indian defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said the two Ministers had also agreed measures designed to help combat rampant piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.
“The two Defence Ministers agreed to work together to enhance mutual trust in the security field and continue to maintain peace and tranquility in the India, China border areas,” Kar said.