Friday, October 8, 2010

How India is undoing China's string of pearls

New Delhi's defence establishment has quietly put in place India's own counter-measures to woo and bolster China's neighbours as a long-term strategy, says Nitin Gokhale One of the least understood and less scrutinised facets of India's diplomacy is perhaps New Delhi's 'Look East' policy, now nearly two decades old. Click! Launched during Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao's regime primarily to try and integrate India's newly liberalising economy with that of the Asian 'tigers', that policy is now quietly evolving into a more robust military-to-military partnership with important nations in that region. Over the past three months alone, top Indian military leadership has made important trips to key nations in South-East and East Asia -- Vietnam, South Korea, Japan , Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.

 Indian Army  chief General V K Singh was in Vietnam in July, furthering an already strong strategic relationship. General Singh's visit was the first in a decade by an Indian army chief. Apart from meeting his Vietnamese counterpart, Deputy Chief of General Staff Pham Hong Loi, the Indian army chief discussed with Vietnam's National Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh, the road map to implement the 2009 memorandum of understanding between the two ministries of defence. Two areas where India and Vietnam will focus their immediate attention were training of military personnel and dialogue between experts on strategic affairs on both sides. General Singh's visit will be followed by Defence Minister A K Antony's mid-October trip to Hanoi when he will participate in the first-ever regional meeting of political leaders in the defence field. As the current chair of ASEAN.

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