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A K Antony meets Chinese premier and defence minister
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BEIJING, July 5 (Agencies): Defence Minister A K Antony today met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and held talks with his counterpart on a host of bilateral issues, including a new mechanism to boost security along the borders, in the backdrop of Chinese incursions in Ladakh region.

Antony, who arrived here last night on a four day visit, started off his tour with delegation level talks with Chinese Defence Minister General Chang Wanquan.The talks lasted for an hour, officials said.

Antony, the first Indian Defence Minister to visit China since 2006, later called on Premier Li and discussed the follow up steps initiated by both the countries after his historic visit last month, which took place in the backdrop of Chinese incursions in the Depsang Valley in Ladakh area in April, setting off new round of border tensions.

Welcoming Antony, Li said China and India are important neigbours and partners. The peaceful coexistence of China and India is a good blessing for both countries and Asia and also for promoting peace stability and development, he said.

Gen Wang later hosted a banquet in Antony's honour. The two sides are currently finalising the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) which among other things is expected to improve mechanisms to prevent any tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as the two countries made efforts to resolve the border dispute.

The two sides are also finalising plans to hold military exercises later this year in China resuming it after 2008. Armies of India and China held their first exercises in 2007 at Belguam in Karnataka with plans to hold such events annually. Similar exercises were held in 2008 at China's Kunming city.

The drills were later disrupted over China's new policy of granting visas on piece of paper to residents of Jammu and Kashmir even denied visas to a top General Northern Command after which India called off military contacts.

The issue was sorted in 2011 leading to resumption of the contacts once again. Antony is due to visit a military installation and defence teaching institution here tomorrow before leaving for home on Sunday.

His visit was overshadowed by the hostile comments by a Major General of the People's Liberation Army, Luo Yuan, who accused India of occupying 90,000 sq km of territory and cautioned New Delhi of not to "provoke" China by increasing the military deployment at the border to "start new trouble".

He made the comments at a get together with foreign media here. Playing down his comments, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here today that India and China pay great attention to their defence ties and cooperation.

Without referring to the comments by the general, she said the two sides agreed to hold a joint anti-terrorism military exercise later this year.They also agreed to step up their exchanges in Naval, Army and Military academics, as well as officers.

The two sides also agreed to increase their mutual trust, step up cooperation between the two militaries in order to jointly maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas, she said. "We are also ready to work together with the Indian side to make our positive efforts for peace and tranquillity in the border areas," she said.

Antony is accompanied by Defence Secretary R K Mathur, Eastern Army Commander, Lieutenant-General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Southern Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Satish Soni and other officials of the Defence Ministry and armed forces.

News Updated at : Friday, July 5, 2013
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