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After Nathu La visit, Nirmala Sitharaman visits Army, IAF bases in Tezpur

After Nathu La visit, Nirmala Sitharaman visits Army, IAF bases in Tezpur

Yet the Defense Minister set a wonderful diplomatic example by greeting Chinese soldiers who were taking her photographs from their side of the border.

But Sitharaman's exchange of greetings with Chinese soldiers came in for praise by Qian Feng, an expert at the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies.

In an interesting conversation with People's Liberation Army personnel, the Defence Minister had taught them how to say "Namaste". She also warmly "acknowledged the row of Chinese soldiers from across the fence".

In a commentary, Global Times editorialised her border inspection as an "aggressive posture" but said she had "diluted" it by conducting "friendly interactions with Chinese soldiers".

When Indian soldiers present there try to prompt the answer, she promptly stops them, telling them to let the Chinese figure out the meaning on their own. "Doklam is Chinese territory".

Although India doesn't expect another "flashpoint" in the area, the assessment is that China could attempt a stronger intrusion at another location on the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) - possibly at Barahoti in Uttaranchal, in the central sector.

Citing the 1890 treaty between Britain and China, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, "The Sikkim section of China-India border has been delineated by the historical convention and the Nathu La pass is the best witness to that fact".

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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.

Addressing the Army Commanders at Manekshaw Centrel, Ms. Sitharaman listed integration of the armed forces as her priority as it was essential, particularly in the domain of training, communication, logistics and cyberspace to prepare for any future conflict.

The government is committed to filling the gaps that arose due to lack of timely decision-making under the previous regime, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday told top IAF commanders in the national capital.

She was accompanied by Vice Chief of the Army Staff Lt Gen Sarath Chand and GOC-in-C Eastern Command Lt Gen Abhay Krishna.

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.

She also visited Solmara Military Station, Tezpur where she interacted with the officers and jawans over a cup of tea.

China appeared to welcome the Indian minister's gestures at the border.