Antony to visit China, border security mechanism tops agenda
Beijing: Defence Minister AK Antony will arrive here on a four-day visit on Thursday during which the militaries of India and China are set to firm up their ties with focussed talks on new border security mechanisms to avert incursions like the one witnessed in Ladakh region recently.
Accompanied by a high power delegation from the three armed forces, Antony will meet his Chinese counterpart General Chang Wanquan on Friday.
This will be the first visit by an Indian Defence Minister in seven years to China.
Antony is also expected to call on Premier Li Keqiang besides visiting a military unit and a command centre, official sources said here.
The visit was also to reciprocate the last year`s visit of Chinese Defence Minister Gen Liang Guanglie to New Delhi, which took place after a gap of eight years.
Antony`s visit comes days after the 16th round of border talks between National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi here during which the two sides had a threadbare discussion on mutual concerns especially, the incursion of Chinese troops into the Depsang Valley on April 15.
The row was resolved after the withdrawal of Chinese troops from the area following a 20 day fracas.
Though no agreements are expected to be signed during the visit, the two sides were expected to have advanced negotiations on the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA), a new mechanism suggested by China last year for improving security at the borders, pending the final settlement of the territorial dispute.
The BDCA which has several facets was discussed extensively between the two sides, including during the June 28-29 border talks.
After the talks, Menon said "We are making progress steadily. I think the proof is in the successful way we handled Depsang, and in the way we are discussing a new BDCA, which was proposed by the China to better manage the situation at the border".
He said it would be further discussed during Antony`s visit.
The two countries are strengthening the edifice of mechanisms that are in place. There was a broad measure of agreement on BDCA but the two sides still have to do a little bit of work on text itself, Menon said.
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