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Sino-Indian anti-terror drill begins
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China and India will hold their first joint anti-terror military drill starting tomorrow -- a sign of growing military exchanges and mutual trust between the two neighbors.

Codenamed "Hand-in-Hand, 2007", the military exercise will be held in southwest China's Yunnan Province.

The weeklong drill will draw about 100 troops from each country, according to a brief statement from the foreign office of the Ministry of National Defense.

"The joint training is aimed at enhancing understanding and mutual trust between Chinese and Indian armies and strengthening their exchanges in the anti-terror areas," the statement said.

"It is also aimed at deterring the 'three evil forces' - separatists, extremists and terrorists - and promote the strategic partnership for peace and prosperity between China and India."

The drill, experts said, reflects the growing mutual trust and understanding, and will further promote trust building and exchanges between the two militaries.

"It will definitely help strengthen the mutual trust between the two countries, and the militaries in particular, given that they have an episode of unpleasant history," said Sun Shihai, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

In addition to its symbolic significance, Sun said the joint training is also of solid "substance" because the two countries are sometimes victims of the "three evil forces".

Despite the small scale of the drill, Sun said it is a "good starter".

Swaran Singh, associate professor at the School of International Studies at New Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University, said: "This reflects the growing mutual trust and understanding between the two sides, including between their military establishments."

China and India last year signed a memorandum of understanding to institutionalize training and exercise exchanges and other contacts between the two militaries.

Since then China and India have been sending officers to each other's military institutions for training, and military delegations have been visiting each other on a regular basis.

"Hopefully, this momentum will pick up in the coming years and China and India can be a model of military cooperation among Asian countries," Singh said.

In 2003, the two nations held their first joint naval search and rescue exercises in the East China Sea.

(China Daily December 20, 2007)

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