Antony leaves for China Thursday

New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony will leave Thursday on a four-day official visit to China. Discussions on the Sino-Indian border and interactions between the armed forces of the two countries are on the agenda during the visit.

An official release said Antony will be accompanied by Defence Secretary R.K. Mathur, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Command Lt.General Dalbir Singh, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Naval Command Vice Admiral Satish Soni, and others from the defence ministry and the armed forces.

The last defence minister to visit China was Pranab Mukherjee, in 2006.

Antony will have delegation-level talks with his counterpart, State Councillor and Minister of National Defence Chang Wanquan.

“Both ministers are expected to discuss a number of issues, including those related to maintenance of peace and tranquillity on the border, exchanges and interactions between the armed forces of both sides, and matters relating to regional and global security,” the release said.

Antony’s visit to China comes within days of border talks between the two countries.

The talks, held in Beijing June 28-29, concluded in a “productive, constructive and forward-looking atmosphere”, including emphasis on maintaining peace on the nearly 4,000 km boundary that had seen a three-week standoff earlier this year.

The border talks were led by India’s National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang visited India in May and incursion by Chinese troops that began April 15 had figured prominently in his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Chinese troops had intruded 19 km inside India and pitched tents, raising tension between the two countries. The row ended May 5 after many rounds of negotiations.

Officials said that a border defence cooperation agreement first proposed by China is likely to figure in talks during Antony’s visit.

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