India to hold maritime dialogue with China this year

India and China Thursday agreed to hold a maritime dialogue this year to exchange views on issues including cooperations between their maritime agencies and freedom of navigation.

New Delhi: India and China Thursday agreed to hold a maritime dialogue this year to exchange views on issues including cooperations between their maritime agencies and freedom of navigation.

The proposed discussion on freedom of navigation assumes significance as few years ago China had raised objections over the presence of Indian warships in the South China Sea, where it claims territorial sovereignty and New Delhi has been demanding that there should be no impediment on the movement of its vessels there.

"During the talks between the two countries, they agreed to hold the first round of maritime cooperation dialogue within this year to exchange views on maritime affairs and security, including anti-piracy, freedom of navigation and cooperation between maritime agencies of both countries," official sources said here.

In the anti-piracy operations, India and China have worked together in the Gulf of Aden to tackle the threat of the Somali pirates operating there and started coordinated patrols in the region to curb their activities.

India and China hold joint Army drills under the Hand-in-Hand series of exercises and have been discussing the possibility of holding maritime exercises in the near future.

Indian warships have been making port calls to Chinese cities but no formal exercise has been held so far between their navies or coast guards.  

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