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Defence Minister arrives in China on four-day visit

BEIJING (PTI): Defence Minister A K Antony arrived here on Thursday on a four-day visit for high-level talks with Chinese leadership on new confidence building measures to maintain peace at the disputed borders in the backdrop of incursion of PLA troops in the Ladakh region.

Accompanied by a high power defence delegation, Antony arrived in the eastern Chinese city of Shanghai by an Air India flight. He later flew to Beijing by a special flight arranged by the Chinese government.

Antony, the first defence Minister to visit China in seven years, will formally hold talks with his Chinese counterpart General Chang Wanquan here on Friday.

He is expected to call on Premier Li Keqiang besides visiting a military installation and command centre.

It is not yet clear whether he could meet President Xi Jinping, who is the over all commander of the Chinese military by virtue of being the Chairman of the Military Commission, which controls the world's largest army of 2.3 million.

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 China's People's Liberation Army troops into the Depsang Valley on April 15.

Border incursion, the finalisation of the Border Defence Coordination Agreement (BDCA), a new mechanism suggested by China last year for improving security at the borders, pending the final settlement of the territorial dispute, top Antony's agenda for talks here.

The BDCA was expected to set up mechanisms which will provide for consultations for communication between both side to improve management at the border.

Officials said BDCA would come up for discussions during Antony's talks but not expected to be signed.

The BDCA which has several facets has been discussed extensively between the two sides, including during the June 28-29 border talks between the two Special Representatives.

Besides BDCA, the two sides are expected to finalise the dates to resume bilateral military exercises which would focus on anti-terrorism drills.


India  China  Visit  Antony  

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