Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe arrived in New Delhi Tuesday on a four-day official visit, and called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the late afternoon.
According to the PMO, Modi appreciated the increased momentum of high-level contacts between the two nations in all spheres, including in the areas of defence and military exchanges. Describing India-China relations as a factor of stability in the world, the Prime Minister said that maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas is indicative of the sensitivity and maturity with which India and China handle their differences, not allowing them to become disputes.
General Wei is expected to meet defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman Wednesday and several senior army officials during his visit, which comes a day after Japan’s defence minister Itsunori Onodera met Modi and Sitharaman, where among other things, both sides “reaffirmed their intention to pursue cooperation in engaging with countries of the Indo-Pacific, including through their capacity building.
“Describing it as an “official goodwill visit”, the Chinese defence ministry said “General Wei Fenghe will hold talks with leaders of India and Indian armed forces, and the two sides will exchange views on the relations between the two countries and the two militaries and issues of common concern.
Adding that “the military relationship between China and India is an important part of the bilateral relations,” a spokesperson said said -“both militaries are actively implementing the important consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi, enhancing communication and coordination, promoting mutually beneficial cooperation, accumulating strategic mutual trust and ensuring sound development of the relations between the two militaries, so as to play a due role in boosting closer development partnership between the two countries.
Gen Wei’s visit follows the visit by Gen Liu Xiaowu, deputy commander of the Western Theater Command, to India in July, during which both sides agreed to control risks at the border area, expand joint tactical drills, strengthen culture and sports interactions between the border defence forces, and jointly safeguard peace and stability at the border. Subsequently, the GoC in C of Eastern Command of the Indian Army, Lt Gen Abhay Krishna visited China August 15 to 19, during which he met PLA Commander General Han Weiguo and other senior officials.
“We attach the utmost importance to Gen Wei’s visit, and hope that the two sides will be able to resolve any outstanding issues during his stay,” a senior defence ministry official said. Sources said these include plans to set up a hotline between the two armies, which has been stuck over protocol and other issues, and ways to alert each other when patrolling disputed stretches of the border.
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