China and India announced on Tuesday that the two biggest developing nations would resume joint military exercises after a four-year suspension due to a visa spat, after a meeting between the nations' defense chiefs in New Delhi.
During the first visit to India by a Chinese defense Minister in eight years, Liang Guanglie and his Indian counterpart A.K. Antony reached many consensuses in their talks, the Xinhua News Agency said.
Liang said, "I had a candid and practical discussion with the defense minister."
"We covered a lot about the situation in the South Asia, Asia-Pacific region," Antony told reporters after the meeting. "We had a very frank and heart-to-heart discussion on all the issues ... including in the border areas."
Antony said the joint exercises will resume "at the earliest," without giving any timeline, Reuters reported.
The two neighbors held two rounds of joint military maneuvers, dubbed "Hand-in-hand," in 2007 and 2008, and the third was put off due to diplomatic spats over visas for Indian military officers from the so-called Arunachal Pradesh area.
Liang's three-day visit came at a time when the US seeks to forge closer ties with India by hinting that Washington was considering offering India more advanced weapons.
India is concerned about China's military infrastructure buildup along the border areas and in response demands bigger defense budgets to offset China's rising power.
However, Liang said that China and India can only benefit from a peaceful relationship between them.
China always holds a positive attitude toward promoting exchanges and cooperation between the two armed forces and is willing to work with India to increase mutual trust, Liang said.
In a written interview with The Hindu newspaper, Liang said the exchange and cooperation between the border troops of China and India is an important basis for maintaining stability in the border areas.
Before the final settlement of the boundary issue, the Chinese side is willing to work together with the Indian side to jointly maintain peace and tranquility in the China-India border areas, Liang added.
Asked whether China will seek a permanent naval base with expanding efforts in anti-piracy missions in the Indian Ocean, Liang said, "Since the beginning of their escort mission in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia at the end of 2008, the PLA Navy ships have conducted logistical supplies from the ports of Djibouti, Oman, and Yemen," Liang told The Hindu. "According to the need of escort missions and other long-distance voyages, we would also consider having logistical supplies or short rests at appropriate ports of other countries."
"Such logistical supply activities do not have any connection with establishing military bases overseas," the defense minister said.
"Both countries should draw a lesson from history and realize that neither side will benefit from conflict," said Wang Dehua, director of the South Asia Research Center at Shanghai Tongji University.
"India also knows about the insincerity of the US," Wang said. The US had threatened India with penalties if it failed to comply with Washington's sanctions to cut oil imports from Iran.