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Parrikar on a 5-day visit to China

Manohar-Parrikar

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will hold talks with top Chinese political and defence leaders during his five-day visit to that country beginning today which comes amid strains in bilateral relations over Beijing’s move to block India’s attempt in the UN to clamp a ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar.

Defence Ministry sources said the focus of the visit, which comes days after India decided to sign a logistics support agreement with the US, will be to deepen military-to- military ties and focus on the border issues.

Parrikar will be the first Indian defence minister to visit China since 2013, the last being his predecessor A K Antony.

He is expected to hold talks with top Chinese political and defence leaders. No agreements are expected during Parrikar’s visit, they said.

Parrikar’s trip follows high-level visits by top Chinese defence officials including Central Military Commission (CMC) Vice Chairman General Fan Changlong to India last year.

CMC, headed by President Xi Jinping, is the highest commanding authority of the 2.3-million strong Peoples’ Liberation Army.

While the two sides had set up a dialogue mechanism under special representatives of both the countries to find a solution to the vexed boundary dispute spanning 3,488 km, they also operationalised a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination to address tensions arising out of aggressive patrolling of the disputed boundary.

So far, the special representatives have held 18 rounds of talks. The two sides have also opened more border points for regular interactions between their officers and men to build a friendly rapport.

Parrikar’s visit comes amid concerns in India about China’s move to block its bid to have JeM chief Azhar designated as “terrorist” by the UN in the aftermath of the terror attack on an air base in Pathankot in January.

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