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India, China to resume high-level military exchanges

Sanya (China): India and China have agreed to resume high-level defence exchanges, stalled after Beijing denied a proper visa to a senior Indian army officer serving in Jammu and Kashmir, it was announced Wednesday.

Bonhomie: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is greeted by Chinese President Hu Jintao in Sanya, China, on Wednesday. Leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa will meet on Thursday for the 2011 BRICS Summit. APThe decision was taken at a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao in this Chinese coastal resort. The two leaders discussed a range of bilateral and global issues.

National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon told reporters after the 50-minute meeting that “following the discussions in the last few months about these exchanges, it has been agreed that a multi-command Indian army delegation will be visiting China later this year.

“And we are also discussing further exchanges and visits in this sector during the year,” said Menon. India suspended defence exchanges last year in August, strongly objecting to China issuing a visa on a loose sheet to Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaiswal of the army’s Northern Command who was based in Jammu and Kashmir.

This was in continuance of China’s 2008 policy to issue stapled visas to Kashmiris, indicating that it sees the state as disputed territory and its residents as non-Indians.
Menon denied there was a blanket ban on defence ties.

“We have maintained communication in the defence field between us. We never froze defence exchanges. We have always continued defence exchanges. For instance, meetings of our commanders, flag meetings or the border commanders’ meeting, all that has gone up.”

Asked about stapled visas, Menon said the Chinese “are working to resolve this”. He said Manmohan Singh and Hu “expressed satisfaction at the steady growth in the bilateral relationship” after “a very productive warm, friendly meeting”.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Menon and Indian ambassador to China S. Jaishankar were part of the Indian team that met at Sheraton Beach Resort on the sidelines of the 3rd BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit.

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