First after Doklam standoff: Chinese Defence Minister visits India today

Gen Wei Fenghe will hold bilateral talks with Indian defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman later in the day

First after Doklam standoff: Chinese Defence Minister visits India today

NEW DELHI: In his first visit to India following the 73-day Doklam standoff last year, Chinese Defence Minister Lt Gen Wei Fenghe will hold crucial talks with his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday. The meeting comes in the backdrop of China’s People’s Liberation Army reported instance of incursion in the Indian territory earlier this month.

Considered to be an important meet by officials on both sides, the bilateral talks between the two defence ministers will focus on improving relations in all areas including the military sphere.

This is their second meeting this year as Sitharaman met him during her visit to Beijing in April to take part in the defence ministers' meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Gen Wei's visit is regarded as a full-fledged bilateral visit aimed at solidifying military ties in the larger improvement of relations after this year's informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping, reported news agency PTI.

"For some time, you would have noticed that China-India relations are improving steadily. Exchanges and cooperation in all areas have moved forward including the military to military exchanges," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang while briefing the media about Gen Wei's four-day visit to India.

While no agreements are expected during Gen Wei's visit, officials said that it is aimed at improving communication between the two militaries at the highest level as well as the atmospherics which would send a positive signal to the troops on the ground along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control.

Last month, a top US official said that China has quietly resumed its activities in the Doklam area and neither Bhutan nor India has sought to dissuade it.

Alice G Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, said Beijing has resumed actions in the Himalayan region with its manoeuvres in the disputed South China Sea. China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims.

With PTI inputs