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India-China finalise plans to hold anti terrorism drills

Beijing: India and China have finalised arrangements to hold joint anti-terrorism exercises later this year even as they are grappling with the issue of intrusion by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) forces into the Depsang Valley in Ladakh.

Separately, officials of the two countries are also poised to hold talks on river waters next week to address New Delhi's concerns over Beijing's plans to construct new dams on Brahmaputra as well as liberalisation of visa regime between the two countries ahead of External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid visit here on May 9.

This week, a three-member Indian delegation, headed by Brigadier Y K Joshi, visited Chengdu, the headquarters of the Military Brigade that is largely focussed on Tibet and China's borders with India, official sources here told PTI.

They discussed preparations for the exercises being resumed after gap of four years, the sources said.

The visit of the Indian military delegation assumed significance as the both militaries were at loggerheads over Chinese soldiers pitching tents at Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) in Ladakh, which India said is an intrusion. It has asked the PLA to restore status quo.

On its part, China denied any violation of the LAC by its troops and the two countries held hectic negotiations to resolve it ahead of Khurshid's visit.

After initial reactions, India and China played down differences, saying that the efforts were on to sort them out.

Khrushid visit will be followed by new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to New Delhi later next month, making it his first stop of his maiden overseas tour.

Sources said Brig Joshi's delegation, which winded up its visit yesterday, however, focused only on the plans to hold joint exercises as the Ladakh issue is being dealt through border consultation mechanism worked out by the two countries last year.

The Indian military delegation discussed the composition of the troops to take part in the exercises, besides the logistics and the format of which will be anti terrorism.

They also made field visits to the areas where the Chinese side plans to conduct the drills. The two sides plans to press in a company of troops take part in the exercises.

The schedule of the exercises, which were expected to be held in September or October this year, will be finalised between the two side at a later date.

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