BEIJING: India and China today agreed to set up a dedicated communication channel to boost security cooperation as Home Minister Rajnath Singh held talks with China's security czar on issues like cross border terrorism from Pakistan and the Afghan situation.
During discussions between Singh and Meng Jianzhu, who oversees internal and external security, both sides agreed to setup an exclusive communication channel between their home ministries for speedier communication on terror-related issues.
"There was lot discussion on terrorism," Singh told the Indian media after his meeting with Meng.
Mutual concerns relating to Pakistan and Afghanistan figured in the talks, he said.
Meng has replaced former national security head, Zho Yongkong, who was sentenced to life for corruption and abuse of power.
To the surprise of Singh and Indian officials, Meng, who is head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), was also joined by State Councillor and Interior Minister Guo Shengkun.
Besides Meng and Guo the meeting was attended by several vice ministers and top officials, Singh said.
Guo had a lengthy meeting with Singh yesterday during which both sides agreed to form a ministerial committee on security related issues, creating a platform for the first time to have an annual review of cooperation on terrorism, cyber security, cross border crimes and drug trafficking.
Most importantly both the sides discussed terrorism concerns faced by them from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Singh said all issues relating to India's concerns were flagged in the talks, including New Delhi's perception that Beijing blocked its move to get the UN to take action against Pakistan for the release of Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.
In July this year, Indian officials at the UN's Sanctions Committee said India's demand to take action against Pakistan for the release of Lakhvi was blocked by China on the pretext that New Delhi did not provide sufficient information.
China subsequently defended its action, saying its stand was "based on facts and in the spirit of objectiveness and fairness" and expressed desire to discuss the issue with India.
"We have raised the issue and exchanged information," Singh said.
Singh's talks with Chinese officials also broadly covered India's concerns over leaders of several militant groups from the northeastern states taking shelter in China as well as illegal arms supplies.
Declining to provide any details, Singh said "we have raised our concerns about North Eastern states." Indian officials, who took part in the discussions, said China faced no less of terrorism challenges than those faced by India which is grappling with cross border infiltration from Pakistan.
For its part, China has been countering similar challenges in its Xinjiang province, struggling to peg down two-way flow of Uyghur militants of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) from the bases in Pakistan's tribal areas which were reported to have been targeted by Pakistan military in recent years.
Today China said 28 terrorists linked to foreign militant outfits have been killed in Xinjiang in one of the major operations in the area where Uyghur Muslims have a majority highlighting the security concerns in the province bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
A number Xinjiang militants have also reportedly joined the Islamic State in Syria.
"The atmosphere is very good. Meng is very proactive and positive in suggesting cooperation. Our discussions covered counter terrorism cooperation in considerable detail, greater cooperation on fighting transnational crimes," Singh said.
On Afghanistan, China too was interested in pushing anti-terrorism cooperation as its efforts to play an active role along with Pakistan to further peace talks between Taliban and Afghan government suffered a set back after the death of Taliban founder leader Mullah Omar and the militant group's split over the new leadership, officials said.
Indian officials said the proactive way China pushed security cooperation with India to combat terrorism shedding reservations of its likely impact on its close ties with Pakistan is a surprise.
Indian Ambassador to China Ashok K Kantha, who briefed the media, along with Singh said the change of attitude of China speaks of gradual evolution of relations between the two countries in the recent years.
After talks with Singh, Meng also said China and India should enhance cooperation to combat terrorism and fight transnational crimes.
China and India should also coordinate to improve border entry and exit administration to facilitate people's travel and promote stability in the region, Meng was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency.
Yesterday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delayed his visit to Malaysia to meet Singh during which he pledged further investments and security cooperation with India.
The premier also called on the two sides to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in counterterrorism and fighting against transnational crimes, official media reported.
Singh, who arrived here on Wednesday, on a six-day trip continued his visits to Chinese Public Security units.
After his visit to the Public Security University here yesterday, he visited the First Public Security research unit in which 2,400 people including 1,200 researchers work.
"It is really impressive to see the focussed research on security related issues," Singh said.
Tomorrow he would travel to Shanghai by bullet train and in the eastern Chinese metropolis he would also visit a local police station as well as the city's Public Security Command Control to get glimpse into how the China's biggest city with over 21 million population deals with law and order issues.
He would also visit Shanghai's new free trade zone launch in 2013 to further economic reforms and address Indian Association of Shanghai before winding up his visit to China.