This Article is From Jul 04, 2013

Defence Minister A K Antony's China visit begins today

Defence Minister A K Antony's China visit begins today
New Delhi: Defence Minister A K Antony is set to lead a high-level delegation to China beginning today, his first since assuming the portfolio and two months after the stand-off in eastern Ladakh.

This trip comes after a spat in May between the two nations over troop movements in a disputed Himalayan border region. His visit will also reciprocate last year's visit of Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie to New Delhi, which took place after a gap of eight years.

This will be the first visit by an Indian defence minister since 2006 when Pranab Mukherjee held the portfolio.

AK Antony is expected to land in Shangai and meet his Chinese counterpart. He is also likely to call on Premier Li Keqiang.

His delegation will include defence secretary R K Mathur, eastern army commander Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh Suhag, and southern naval commander Vice-Admiral D Soni. Mr Antony's visit coincides with the visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to China.

Though no agreements are expected to be signed during the visit, the two sides were expected to have advanced negotiations on the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA).

The BDCA which has several facets was discussed extensively between the two sides, especially during the June 28-29 border talks.

Li pledged to build trust with India, declaring that ties between the Asian giants were the key to world peace, during a visit to New Delhi in May.

Li made India the first destination on his first foreign visit, since China's leadership change in March, which he said showed the importance that Beijing attached to ties with Delhi.

Last month, India's National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon held negotiations on the boundary issue with his counterparts in Beijing.