India attaches highest priority to ties with China: Parrikar
The defence minister would meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday and later visit Chengdu.
Beijing: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday said that India attaches highest priority to its ties with China, allaying Beijing's concerns over New Delhi's any tilt towards the US in view of its decision to sign an agreement with Washington to share military bases.
In a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan, Parrikar said that "India attaches highest priority to relations with China and was committed to further developing friendly and cooperative relations with China".
Allaying China's concerns over India's decision to sign Logistics Support Agreement with the US, Parrikar told the Chinese leader that India pursued autonomous policy to further its national interests and there is no change in it.
"India is committed to further developing friendly and corporative relations with China," he told Chang.
Parrikar later met China's highest military official Gen Fan Changlong, the Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, which is the overall commanding body of the 2.3 million strong military. It is headed by President Xi Jinping.
The defence minister would meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday and later visit Chengdu, the headquarters of recently integrated western command military which has jurisdiction over entire borders with India.
While the two countries discussed expediting efforts to establish hotline between the two military headquarters and more confidence building measures like opening of more border points for interactions with troops on the grounds, Parrikar reiterated India's stand for demarcation of the 3,488-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC) which was proposed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to China last year.
China, however, expressed reservations over such a move.
Terming the recurring incidents of Chinese troops entering what India claims as its territory as "transgressions not incursions", Parrikar said clarity over LAC will bring down tensions between the troops on both sides which aggressively patrol the areas to assert their control.
"We are insisting it should be done in order to really ensure a very stable border...because all the issues take place because of perception," he said.
Marking the LAC is "one of the preconditions of smooth border operations. Without that everything goes by perceptions...which has caused problems sometimes", he said.
The issue was expected to be further discussed during 19th round of boundary talks between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in Beijing this week.
The two officials were designated Special Representatives to address the boundary dispute.
On establishing hotline, Parrikar said that China has responded to India's memorandum on the technicalities and progress was expected to be made in this regard in the next few months. It was agreed during Prime Minister Modi's visit.
"A lot of issues were discussed. We have generally agreed to enhance the bilateral exchanges at military level and at ministry level," he said.
Border management was one of the issues discussed and discussions focused on steps to improve the conditions on the ground, the minister said.
Currently, both sides opened five border points for interactions with the troops and talks are on to open more such points, he said.
Asked about China’s Maritime Silk Road initiative specially in the Indian Ocean over which India has reservations, Parrikar said the issue of peace and stability of the Indian Ocean was raised.
He said the Chinese officials also raised the issue of South China Sea where China is in maritime dispute with a number of south east Asian countries.
He reiterated India's policy that restraint should be exercised in dealing with it.
Commenting on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's meeting with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on day and the forthcoming visit of Doval, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the meetings show that mutual political trust between China and India have increased, and bilateral exchanges and cooperation are advancing.
Although China and India have some differences, both sides are willing to effectively control and solve the issues through friendly negotiations and consultations, Lu said.
In fact, China and India have always maintained close high-level contacts, he told the media here.
The development of China-India relations is not only in line with their interests but also conducive to regional and global peace and stability, Lu stressed, noting China and India are the two biggest developing countries, important emerging economies and major powers in a multi-polar world.
"We are ready to work with India to constantly make new progress on building the China-India Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity," he said.
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