Beijing: China is considering India's proposal for holding the third round of joint military exercises, codenamed Hand-in-Hand, and this is at the 'working level discussions' stage, a senior Chinese official said at Beijing.
'China is considering India's proposal and it is at the stage of working level discussions,' Colonel Guo Hongtao, Staff Officer of the Asian Affairs Bureau, Foreign Affairs Office, Ministry of National Defence, told a visiting team of Indian journalists.
According to Col. Guo, the working level discussions will decide on when the exercise can be held. India and China have held two joint military 'Hand-in-Hand' operations - in Belgaum, Karnataka, in December 2008 and, before that, in Kunming in China in 2007.
Col. Guo said both countries should make 'substantive effort to expand bilateral cooperation... and enrich cooperation and learn from each other'. Giving an example of learning from each other, Col. Guo said during the joint counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism wargames held in Belgaum, officers of the People's Liberation Army obtained new combat training experience of 'cleaning up of the battlefield'.
He said the PLA delegation, visiting India just after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, were made aware of the terror strike in India and were 'most impressed' by observing the 'operation of cleaning up of the battlefield'. 'It is a very important part of counter-terrorism operations and we got an insight into it,' Col. Guo said, explaining that in many cases after a terror strike the terrorists pretend to be dead and place explosives under their bodies waiting to trigger it when approached, or place an explosive under a body which explodes when it is moved.
The India-China defence dialogue has progressed 'substantially with each consultation', said Col. Guo, adding that their 'functional cooperation' would help attain 'new momentum in the new century'. India and China agreed to step up their defence and security dialogue during a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabo on the sidelines of the Rio+20 Environment Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
India and China held the fourth round of India China Annual Defence Dialogue in New Delhi in December last year and prior to that in Beijing in January 2010. As part of their bilateral defence ties, four Indian warships took part in joint naval exercises in Shanghai earlier this month, which included formal navigation, search and rescue and landing and taking off of helicopters from each other's decks. The Indian journalists were visiting China on the invitation of the state-run All China Journalists' Association as part of the China-India Year of Friendship and Cooperation declared this year by the two countries.