India, China to resume military exchanges

The decision was taken at a meeting between PM Manmohan Singh and Prez Hu Jintao.

Last Updated: Apr 14, 2011, 00:29 AM IST

Sanya (China): After a pause, India is
set to restore full defence cooperation with China, with a
high-level military delegation to visit the country expectedly
in June and an in-principle agreement reached for setting up a
mechanism for consultations and coordination on border
affairs.
The decisions were arrived at during a 50-minute
meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Hu
Jintao here where the Indian leader also voiced concern over
the growing trade imbalance in favour of China, evoking an
assurance that it would be addressed.

During the "very productive, warm and friendly"
meeting, Singh and Hu launched the `Year of India-China
Exchanges in 2011`, National Security Adviser Shivshankar
Menon told reporters.

As part of the measure, there will be a series of
visits including by an Indian military delegation to China
besides exchange of visits by senior political leaders,
holding of strategic economic dialogue, official consultations
and people-to-people contacts, he said.

"It has been agreed that a multi-command Indian
military delegation will visit China later this year," Menon
said.

Sources said the delegation could visit as early as
June and is expected to be headed by a Corps Commander level
officer of the rank of Lt General.

The decision to send a military delegation to China
marks an end to the freeze on high-level defence exchanges by
India after the then Northern Army Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal
was denied a proper visa in July last year for travel to
Beijing because he served in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian decision comes amid apparent moves by China
to reverse its two-year policy of giving stapled visas to
people hailing from Jammu and Kashmir.
The NSA, however, insisted that the defence exchanges
were never frozen as levels of communications at various
levels, including at border commander level, were maintained.

He said the two countries will be discussing further
exchanges and visits during the year.

To a question, Menon said the issue of stapled visas
was not discussed during the meeting between Singh and Hu as
"work" is in progress in this regard.

In his opening remarks at the meeting, Singh told Hu
that India was "keen to expand areas of cooperation" with
China.

"I wish to reaffirm the desire to strengthen strategic
and economic partnership with China in every possible way,"
the Prime Minister said.

As the two leaders greeted each other warmly, Singh
pointed out to Hu that they had met a number of times,
including on the sidelines of G-20 and BRIC Summits.

Hu said it was pleasure to meet Singh and that he
looked forward to exchanging views on bilateral and
international issues of mutual interest.

Menon said during the meeting, the two sides had
reached an in-principle agreement for setting up working
Mechanism for Consultations and Coordination on Border Affairs
to handle maintenance of peace and tranquility along the
boundary.

The mechanism at official-level, he explained, will
explore the areas of cooperation in border areas like border
trade and movement.

Menon said as part of increased exchanges, a number of
high level visits will take place to China during this year.
While reviewing the bilateral relations, Singh and Hu
expressed satisfaction at the steady growth of relations,
Menon said.

Singh and Hu took stock of trade and economic
relations and were convinced that these were on track to
achieving the USD 100 billion by 2015.

Talking about trade imbalance, the Prime Minister
sought better access for Indian goods in Chinese markets,
particularly in IT, pharma and engineering sectors.

The Chinese President agreed that trade imbalance was
a serious issue and said a series of measures were being taken
to address it.

In this context, the two sides will be holding
strategic economic dialogue.

At the meeting, the Prime Minister invited Hu to visit
India who accepted and said a mutually-convenient date would
be worked out. The Chinese President also invited Singh for a
bilateral visit which was accepted.

PTI