Deputy chief of PLA to visit India for defence talks

Beijing: China today confirmed that the defence dialogue with India would go on as scheduled on December 8 in the Indian capital, signalling that bilateral parleys were on track despite recent irritation in ties over border talks. The Deputy Chief of Staff of People`s Liberation Army, (PLA) Ma Xiaotian will take part in two day Defence and Security dialogue to be held in New Delhi, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei told a media briefing here today.

Gen Ma will hold in-depth exchange of views over regional situation, defence exchanges and cooperation between the two countries, Hong said. The confirmation of talks aimed at discussing a whole gamut of issues, including mutual suspicions over rapid development of border infrastructure and deployment of troops is seen as Beijing putting the behind differences and continuing with the dialogue process.

Hong however said no fresh dates for the Special Representative talks to discuss differences on border have been worked out. "The two sides keep in communication of the specific date of the meeting. I have no specific information to release", he said. The 15th round of border talks was to be held on Nov 28-29 in New Delhi but was put off at the last minute following China`s objections to Dalai Lama`s participation in an international Buddhist conference, which was being held around the same time. The conference was held as scheduled with the participation of Dalai Lama while the top Indian leaders stayed away from it.

Subsequently Governor West Bengal, M K Narayanan attended another event in which Dalai Lama took part in Kolkatta, despite official requests made by Chinese Consulate officials there to stay away from the function. For its part China maintained till the last minute that dates for border talks were still being worked out. The Indian Ambassador to China, S Jaishankar, who went to New Delhi to assist the talks has returned three days ago.

Meanwhile China appeared to be pleased over India`s stand on the US-Australia-India security group mooted by Australia. Asked about India`s statement that it was unaware of any such proposed grouping, Hong said "China has taken note of the remarks made by the Indian side".

On Australia`s ruling Labour Party move to lift the ban on sale of Uranium to India, Hong said all countries are entitled for peaceful use of nuclear energy, indirectly referring to Pakistan`s claim to get the same. "China always believes counties are entitled to peaceful use of nuclear energy at the same time should fulfill the international obligations of nuclear non proliferation", he said. The Australian Labour Party decision was widely reported in the Chinese media.