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China expresses caution over Indo-US move to share military logistics

Reacting guardedly to the landmark Indo-US logistics exchange agreement, China today said India pursues an independent foreign policy but hinted it might raise the issue during Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s visit here next week.

“We have noted relevant reports on US Defence Secretary Ash Carter’s visit to India,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters when asked about the agreement that enables militaries of India and the US to use each other’s assets and bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.

“India is also an influential country in the world, and India has been upholding independent diplomatic policy. India will make up its diplomatic policies based on its own interests,” Lu said.

Significantly, Lu’s reference to Parrikar’s visit to China from April 18 was seen as a hint that Beijing might raise the issue with him. The two-day visit is yet to be officially announced by either side.

“India’s defence minister will visit China very soon,” the spokesperson said.

India and the US yesterday agreed “in principle” to a series of initiatives, including the logistics exchange agreement, which they hope will strengthen military ties.

Parrikar and Carter, however, made it clear that the agreement, which will be signed in “weeks” or “coming months”, does not entail deployment of American troops on Indian soil.

The two countries also agreed to set up a new bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue between officials from their respective defence and foreign affairs ministries.

This came as India and the US emphasised on freedom of navigation and need for international based order, apparently in reference to China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.

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