India & China are set to discuss steps to strengthen confidence-building measures along the LAC. Gen Wei will hold a “restricted meeting” with his counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday. The hotline between the two central military headquarters & the annual Army exercise will be on the agenda, said an official

NEW DELHI: India and China are all set to discuss further steps to strengthen bilateral confidence-building measures (CBMs) along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as well as the long-pending hotline between their top commanders and resumption of their annual bilateral “Hand-in-Hand” combat exercise, a year after they all got derailed due to the Doklam troop confrontation between the two nations.

“Maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas is indicative of the sensitivity and maturity with which India and China handle their differences, not allowing them to become disputes,” said PM Narendra Modi, after visiting Chinese defence minister General Wei Fenghe + called on him on Tuesday.

Terming India-China relations as “a factor of stability in the world”, Modi appreciated the “increased momentum” of high-level contacts between two countries in all arenas, including defence and military exchanges.

Gen Wei, who is heading a 24-member team, will hold a “restricted meeting” and delegation-level talks with his counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday. “The hotline between the two central military headquarters, akin to the one between the Indian and Pakistani DGMOs, the annual Army exercise and more effective implementation of CBMs on the ground to prevent troop face-offs along the LAC will all be on the agenda,” said an official.

As was earlier reported by TOI, some People’s Liberation Army troops had intruded around 300-400 metres inside the Demchok sector of eastern Ladakh and pitched five tents there in one such incident last month.

The number of transgressions by Chinese troops along the LAC has crossed 170 this year. If 273 transgressions were recorded in 2016, the number touched 426 last year in wake of the troop face-off in the Bhutanese territory of Doklam.

The eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation had begun in June last year after Indian troops had physically blocked the attempt by Chinese soldiers to extend the existing motorable road there southwards towards the Jampheri Ridge in south Doklam. Though the two armies had disengaged from the face-off site on August 28 after hectic diplomatic parleys, the fallout has been that the PLA has constructed military infrastructure and helipads as well as permanently stationed around 600-700 troops in north Doklam.