India says no to Chinese general`s stopover

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 - 15:16

New Delhi: Citing a busy schedule, India has refused a stopover request from a Chinese general who is travelling to Sri Lanka next month and wanted to meet Indian officials, Defence Minister AK Antony disclosed Wednesday.

The request for a day-long stopover in the capital on June 1 had come from the Chinese army`s deputy chief, General Ma Xiaotian, who will be on his way to Sri Lanka. But India cited its defence ministry`s engagement with dialogues with Pakistan, Germany and Afghanistan from May 30 to June 1 to turn down the request.

Antony said the general had wanted to know if he could stop over to meet Indian officials.

"We said already our hands are full. But he is welcome to visit India. Our relationship is friendly with China," Antony said.

Both India and China are working on sending their defence delegations on bilateral visits, beginning with an Indian delegation led by a major general from Jammu and Kashmir in the second half of June.

The defence minister noted that India was holding its defence secretary level talks with Pakistan on May 30 and 31; after this, the German defence minister would accompany German chancellor on a visit on May 31, followed by Afghan defence minister`s visit on June 1.

"So all the three-four days are overcrowded. So we said if he is coming, he is welcome. Our defence secretary said he would be glad to meet him and instead of structured dialogue, we can have time for lunch and dinner.

"Then he suggested that we will have a structured dialogue very soon. That dialogue...the fourth round of defence dialogue at secretary level will take place very soon. They have agreed. That issue is now resolved," he added.

On the Indian delegation`s visit to China, Antony said there were some delays, but all issues had been sorted out now between the two governments.

"In the second half of June, an eight-member delegation led by a major general of northern command will visit China. That delegation will consist of members from Eastern Command and Central Command," he added.

IANS




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