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China for enhanced mutual trust with India

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December 27, 2007 17:15 IST

Terming the first-ever Sino-Indian joint military training exercise as 'helpful in building mutual trust and promoting cooperation,' China on Thursday favoured an increase in such activities to improve the stability and security in the region.

"China and India are important countries in Asia and two important neighbours. We hope such activities will be increased so that they can be helpful in improving the stability and security of this region," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular bi-weekly news briefing in Beijing.

He said India and China held the joint anti-terrorism drill in Yunnan province in south-west China in accordance with a 'consensus' reached between the two countries.

"We believe this is helpful for building up our mutual trust and promoting our cooperation, especially in the fields of security and in combating non-traditional security factors," he said.

Asked if China was open to the idea of scaling up the military-to-military ties with India to make the joint military exercise a regular feature, he said, 'as for future activities and institutionalising such activities, we have a constructive attitude and we welcome India to provide us with comments and suggestions.'

In a sign of warmer ties, India and China conducted their joint exercise code-named 'Hand-in-Hand 2007' at Kunming Military Academy and in a hilly terrain near Kunming from December 21 to 25 with the spotlight on anti-terrorism drill.

As many as 103 troops from the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry and an equal number from People's Liberation Army took part in the ground-breaking exercise as part of confidence-building measures that upgraded the Sino-Indian military ties to a new high.

A military observer group from India headed by Lt Gen Susheel Gupta, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Indian Army, and their Chinese counterpart witnessed the final day's exercise on Tuesday, with 11 Major-Generals from China in attendance, signalling the importance attached to the drill by Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry had said last week that the joint training exercise would enhance mutual trust and understanding and deter the 'three evil forces' of terrorism, separatism and extremism.

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