Army Chief Gen. Bikram Singh Holds Talks With Top Brass of PLA

K J M Varma, Beijing
Army Chief Gen. Bikram Singh Holds Talks With Top Brass of PLA

Army Chief General Bikram Singh today held wide-ranging talks with China's military top brass on issues like measures to increase mutual trust, implementation of the new border defence mechanism and maritime cooperation.

Singh, who is the first Indian Army Chief to visit China in nine years, held a number of meetings, starting with Chief of General Staff of People's Liberation Army (PLA) General Fang Fenghui.

Singh held wide-ranging talks with Fang, discussing increasing of military to military contacts, implementation of last year's Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) and increasing high level exchanges between the two militaries, Indian officials said.

"Both sides should strengthen border control to prevent disruptions to the broader military-to-military relationship and bilateral ties," Fang said apparently referring to India's concerns over incursions by Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

"Your visit is the first senior military delegation since the formation of Indian's new government. It reflects the great importance India attaches to bilateral relations," Fang said welcoming Singh, who is also the Chairman of the tri-services Chiefs of Staff Committee.

"India attaches the highest priority to the relations with China and is committed to further developing friendly and cooperative relations with your country," Singh was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Fang invoked Panchsheel, the five principles of peaceful coexistence propounded jointly by India and China in 1954 to improve ties, during the talks with Singh.

"China is willing to work with India to uphold Panchsheel, enhance high-level military exchanges and communication to increase mutual trust and reduce suspicion," Fang said.

Singh's visit comes immediately after Vice President Hamid Ansari's trip to Beijing last week to take part in the 60th anniversary of Panchsheel celebrations.

Xi is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brazil this month.

Fang suggested both sides expand cooperation in joint exercises, peacekeeping, anti-terrorism, escort missions, personnel training and think tank exchanges.

Singh exchanged views with Fang on a wide range of issues including the maintenance of peace on the border, maritime cooperation, interactions between the armed forces and issues relating to global security.

The last visit by an Indian Army Chief was in 2005 when Gen N C Vij visited China. 

Indian and Chinese navies have taken part in the anti-piracy operations in Gulf of Aden.

This year is the "Year of Friendly Exchanges" between China and India.

The two militaries will hold a series of activities, including the fourth joint anti-terrorism exercise due to be held in India.

During their meeting, Fang and Singh reaffirmed peace and tranquilly along the border.

BDCA was signed last year to address tense standoffs arising out of aggressive patrolling by PLA troops along the over 4000 km long Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The two sides have held 17 rounds of talks by Special Representatives so far to resolve the border dispute.

After meeting Feng, the Indian Army Chief met Vice Chairman of China's Military Commission General Fan Changlong.

The Military Commission, headed by Chinese President Xi is the highest military body under which all the wings of the armed forces function.

Singh also called on Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao and exchanged views with Vice Executive Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui.

Singh met Zhang as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is traveling with President Xi on a visit to South Korea.

He could not meet Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan as he is out of the city, Indian officials said.

Indian media was not invited to cover any of Singh's meetings with his Chinese counterparts.

Singh is due to travel to Shanghai on July 5, the last day of his visit. In Shanghai, he would visit a Chinese naval ship.

China has invited India take part in its new initiative to build a maritime silk road in Asia to step up trade and commerce. India has sought more details of the project.

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