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China and Pakistan conduct joint air drills -- with eye on India

Allies seek closer 'interoperability' amid tensions surrounding common foe

Pakistan Air Force JF-17 Thunder jets, jointly developed with China, fly in formation to celebrate the shooting down of Indian military aircraft in the disputed region of Kashmir. JF-17s are participating in joint Pakistani-Chinese exercises underway in southern Pakistan.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- China and Pakistan are conducting joint air force exercises in the southern desert of the Islamic Republic near the border with India in a not-so-subtle message to a country with which both have long had tense relations.

The drills come just a week after Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe visited Pakistan and signed a memorandum of understanding for deepening military cooperation. The exercises, dubbed Shaheen -- or Falcon -- IX, are underway at the newly operational Bholari air base in the arid region of Sindh in the country's south, less than 200 km from the Indian border.

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