India and China today agreed to form a ministerial-level mechanism headed by their home ministers for the first time to step up cooperation and coordination on a host of security-related issues, including cross-border terrorism, smuggling and drug trafficking.
The decision to form the ministerial mechanism was agreed upon after Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s talks here with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Interior Minister Guo Shengkun.
The ministerial mechanism which would be followed by a comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the security-related issues to be worked out, will become operational during Guo’s visit to India next year, Singh told the media here after his meetings with Li and Guo.
The committee will handle issues like terrorism, security and law enforcement related issues, transborder crimes, cyber crimes and drug trafficking.
“From now onwards all the issues will be handled by the committee, co-chaired by both the home ministers,” he said.
The committee will meet every year to review the progress, Singh said.
“There is a common recognition by both sides that terrorism is a common threat. It is a transnational and transborder threat which requires our joint response,” he said adding that the point was also highlighted in talks with Li.
The decision by the two countries to deepen cooperation relating to terrorism comes in the backdrop of the Paris terrorist attacks and killing of Chinese and Norwegian hostages by Islamic State terrorists.
“In principle we have agreed to a new bilateral document which will provide the contours of cooperation in counter terrorism, security, trans border crimes and related issues,” Singh said.
The ministerial mechanism would be assisted by a working level mechanism headed by joint secretary level officials of both the countries, Singh said expressing satisfaction over the steady improvement of cooperation between the two nations.
Besides various aspects of security issues, the mechanism significantly would focus on cross border terrorism and information-sharing on terrorism which India and China face from a “joint source” – Pakistan.
While India faces cross border terrorism emanating from Pakistan in Kashmir, China faces the same problem with East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a Xinjiang-based al-Qaeda- backed outfit which has bases in Pakistan’s tribal areas.