Nirmala Sitharaman teaches 'Namaste' to Chinese soldiers

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But it was soft diplomacy at its best when defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman greeted Chinese military officials with an Indian customary "namaste" at the Nathu La border during her official visit to the place.

The gesture shown by the Defence Minister has been welcomed by both internet users and experts of Indian and China alike.

Tensions between India and China have been on an all-time high in the past few months at Doklam, just 30 kms in a straight line to the northeast from Nathu La.

Sitharaman then asked the soldier "What would you say in Chinese?"

A short video of her interaction was posted on her official Twitter account on Sunday.

"Sitharaman's greeting to the Chinese soldiers conveys her hope for peace on the Sino-Indian border and unwillingness to see a new standoff".

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She was also briefed about the security preparedness along the China-India border in the Sikkim sector by the Chief of Eastern Command Lt Gen Abhay Krishna.

The Chinese foreign ministry seemed to suggest that Sitharaman's friendly interaction with Chinese soldiers was of little importance.

India's Economic Times newspaper reported that Sitharaman's trip on Saturday was the first high-level visit to the area following the 73-day stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam, which ended on August 28 following a mutual agreement between the two countries.

"Though leaders of the two countries are exploring more cooperation, the focus and priority of the two countries is to avoid friction and conflict", Hu said. "This is commonly regarded as the attitude of the Narendra Modi government", it said. She later met Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling at his official residence and sought the state government's intervention in solving the issues between the Army and the state's forest department.

The statement had come amidst reports that China has maintained a sizeable presence of its troops near the Doklam standoff site and even started widening an existing road around 12 km from the area of face-off.