Defence Minister AK Antony`s China visit begins today
Defence Minister AK Antony is set to lead a high-level delegation to China, his first since assuming the portfolio.
New Delhi: Defence Minister AK Antony is set to lead a high-level delegation to China beginning Thursday, his first since assuming the portfolio and two months after the stand-off in eastern Ladakh.
This will be the first visit by an Indian defence minister since 2006 when Pranab Mukherjee held the portfolio. In the three days that he will be in China, Antony is likely to land in Shanghai, hold talks in Beijing on July 05 and visit the Chengdu Military Region Command in South Western China.
He is also likely to call on Premier Li Keqiang.
His delegation will include Defence Secretary RK Mathur, eastern Army commander Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh Suhag, and southern naval commander Vice-Admiral D Soni. Antony`s visit coincides with the visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to China.
Antony`s visit was also to reciprocate the last year`s visit of Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie to New Delhi, which took place after a gap of eight years.
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.
The BDCA which has several facets was discussed extensively between the two sides, especially during the June 28-29 border talks.
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, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said.
India is ensuring that it would not affect development of infrastructure in the border areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), according to officials.
Besides BDCA, the two sides were expected to finalise the dates to resume the military exercises which would focus on anti-terrorism drills.
Both sides have already finalised the modalities for the exercises which would be held in Chengdu, close to Tibet.
Armies of India and China held their first exercises in 2007 at Belguam in Karnataka with plans to hold such events annually.