Defence Ministers of India, China begin delegation-level talks

New Delhi: Defence Ministers of India and China on Tuesday began their delegation-level talks during which the two sides are expected to take a decision on resuming military exercises stalled since 2010.

During the talks with Defence Minister A K Antony, Gen Liang Guanglie, who is the first Chinese Defence Minister to visit India in eight years, is expected to address New Delhi`s concerns over Chinese military infrastructure build-up along the border and discuss more Confidence Building Measures (CBMs).

Gen Liang is in India at a time when the two Asian giants are competing vigourously to gain a foothold across the continent for resources. He had arrived in Mumbai on Sunday on a five-day visit to the country.

Before the official meeting started, the Chinese Defence Minister thanked his Indian counterpart for the "good arrangements" made during his visit to Mumbai and Agra.

On the agenda for talks, a senior Defence Ministry official said, "We are planning to resume the army-to-army exercise `Hand-in-Hand` from next year and a final decision in this regard is expected to be taken."

After his meeting with Antony, the Chinese Defence Minister will hold a meeting with the Chairman, Chiefs of Staffs Committee Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne at the South Block before calling on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Military exercises between the two countries had started in 2007 but were put on hold in 2010 after a series of hiccups in the defence ties between the two sides.

The first exercise was held in Kunming, China in 2007 and the second in Belgaum in India in 2008. The third edition was to have been held in China in 2010 but has since remained stalled.

After the denial of visa to the then Northern Army Commander Lt Gen BS Jaswal by the Chinese in 2010, New Delhi had frozen all bilateral defence exchanges with Beijing.

Though the defence exchanges have started again, there were still some issues like China declining to give visa to an IAF officer belonging to Arunachal Pradesh.

China considers Arunachal Pradesh as part of his territory and calls its as `South Tibet`, a claim rejected by India which says the state is its integral part.

The two sides also have a long-pending boundary problem along the over 4,000 km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The Special Representatives of the two countries have held 15 rounds of talks on the issue but not much progress has been made.

Gen Liang`s visit will be the first by a Chinese Defence Minister to India since Gen Cao Gangchuan`s trip here in March 2004. A Defence Minister-level visit to China from India had last taken place in May 2006.