Antony leaves for China on his first official visit

    By IANS,

    New Delhi : Defence Minister A.K. Antony Thursday left for China on a four-day official visit during which he is slated to have talks on Sino-Indian border and discuss regional and global security.

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    During the visit, Antony will have delegation-level talks with his counterpart, State Councillor and Minister of National Defence Chang Wanquan.

    Both ministers are expected to discuss a number of issues, including those related to maintenance of peace and tranquility on the border, interactions between the armed forces of both sides, and matters relating to regional and global security.

    The last defence minister to visit China was Pranab Mukherjee in 2006.

    Antony is accompanied by senior defence ministry officials and senior officers from the armed forces.

    Officials said that a border defence cooperation agreement first proposed by China is likely to figure in the talks during Antony’s visit.

    Antony’s visit to China comes within days of border talks between the two countries.

    The talks, held in Beijing June 28-29, concluded in a “productive, constructive and forward-looking atmosphere”, including emphasis on maintaining peace on the nearly 4,000 km boundary that had seen a three-week standoff earlier this year.

    The border talks were led by India’s National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi.

    Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited India in May and incursion by Chinese troops that began April 15 figured prominently in his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

    Chinese troops had intruded 19 km inside India and pitched tents, raising tension between the two countries. The row ended May 5 after many rounds of negotiations.