Joint anti-terror exercises by Indian, Chinese armies


New Delhi : Focussing on counter-terrorism, nearly 100 Indian Army troops will for the first time conduct joint exercises with their Chinese counterparts later this year in what is seen as a sign of growing military interaction between the two Asian giants.

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Significantly, the exercises come as India and China move to settle their long-pending border dispute.

"A platoon strength will be proceeding to China in October for exercising with their counterparts (from the People's Liberation Army-PLA)," Indian Army chief, Gen. J.J. Singh, told reporters here Wednesday.

"The exercise will be conducted in a counter-terrorism scenario," he added, while speaking on the sidelines of a defence awards function here.

The venue, duration and dates of the joint drill were being worked out between the two armies, a defence ministry official said.

A similar exercise is likely to be held in India sometime next year, the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

This will be the first joint exercise between the two armies, who fought a border war in 1962. India-China ties had been frosty since then but were revived in the mid-1980s after then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi paid a path-breaking visit to Beijing.

For some years now, Chinese military officials posted in New Delhi have been invited as observers to exercises conducted by the Indian Army. The only hitch to conducting joint exercises has been the language.

While some officers and soldiers of the 2.5 million-strong People's Liberation Army speak Hindi, the reverse was not the case. This gap has now narrowed considerably.

The agreement on staging the joint drills was struck during the army chief's visit to China last month.