July 26, 2018 / 8:12 AM / 3 months ago

In latest rapprochement, China defense minister to visit India

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe has accepted an invitation to visit India and plans to do so by the end of this year, China said on Thursday, as a rapprochement between the two giant neighbors gathers pace.

China's Defense Minister Wei Fenghe speaks during a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the Bayi Building in Beijing, China, June 27, 2018. Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed in April to open a new chapter in ties, just months after a dispute over a stretch of their high-altitude Himalayan border rekindled fears of war.

Speaking at a regular monthly news briefing, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said both countries were currently in communication about Wei’s visit, but gave no other details.

Hundreds of troops from both sides were deployed in 2017 on the Doklam plateau, near the borders of India, its ally Bhutan, and China after India objected to Chinese construction of a road in the Himalayan area in their most serious standoff in years.

There is still deep mistrust between the neighbors over their festering border dispute, which triggered a brief war in 1962.

Ren added that Major General Liu Xiaowu, deputy commander of China’s western military region, had also visited India from July 2-6, for meetings with his Indian counterparts.

During his trip, both countries reached broad consensus about improving front line risk management, the need to maintain peace and stability along the border and strengthening of exchanges between their two border forces, Ren said.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Neil Fullick

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