Nirmala says priority is on defence readiness

Nirmala Sitharaman Doklam Nathula area Doklam standoff India China border Sikkim standoff Nirmala Sitharaman conducts aerial survey aerial survey of the Doklam Nathula area Nirmala Sitharaman survey India-China

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today conducted an aerial survey of the Doklam Nathula area on the India China border

The moment was captured and shared by the defence minister on Twitter. The Ministry of External Affairs, in a recent statement, denied that the India-China "disengagement agreement", which brought the Doklam standoff to an end, was violated. The Chinese soldiers in the area still have road construction equipment and other stores, they said.

The video had been posted on Sitharaman's official Twitter handle and the report about her visit had been widely carried in the Indian media.

In the video, the Defence Minister was seen asking one of the People's Liberation Army personnel "Do you know what "Namaste" means?"

In the video, Sitharaman, who was recently appointed as the new defence minister, can be seen teaching Chinese soldiers what Namaste (greetings in Hindi) meant.

She was also briefed about the security preparedness along the China-India border in the Sikkim sector by the Chief of Eastern Command Lt Gen Abhay Krishna.

The greeting "sent a goodwill signal towards mending bilateral ties and putting relations back on track toward normality", Qian Feng, an expert at the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies, told the Party-run Global Times newspaper.

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"Although leaders of the two countries are exploring more cooperation, the focus and priority of the two countries is to avoid friction and conflict", said Shisheng. "China is also concerned about the transport route security across the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Malacca, but Beijing has taken no coercive measures to achieve its aims", the daily said.

Chinese experts from various educational institutions have appreciated Sitharaman's initiative to advance goodwill.

Incidentally, Sitharaman was scheduled to undertake an aerial survey of the Doklam region and forward border posts in Sikkim during her visit to Nathu La.

She later met Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling at his official residence and sought the state government's intervention in sorting out issues, mostly concerning land, between the Army and the state's forest department. The tension eased after talks between top officials of both the countries.

China is said to have started constructing another road on the Doklam plateau, with 500 soldiers protecting construction crew, NDTV reported last week.

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