As part of annual dialogue, Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar will leave for Beijing on Tuesday for a meeting with his Chinese counterpart and discussions to carry forward ties between the two militaries.

The two-day Sino-Indian Defence Dialogue will be held on January 6 and 7. Mr. Kumar will lead a delegation that includes Major-General Munish Sibal from the Eastern Command and officers of the Navy and the Air Force.

“We will be sharing our perception of issues in the region and world while looking at exchange programmes between the personnel of the three services and joint exercises,” a top official in the Ministry told The Hindu.

In its 2008-09 annual report, the Ministry noted that while monitoring China’s defence modernisation and its military assistance and cooperation with Pakistan, New Delhi would engage Beijing “to seek greater transparency and openness in its defence policy and posture, while taking all necessary measures to protect the national security, territorial integrity and sovereignty of India.”

Joint exercise

In December 2007, the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army of China held the first joint exercise in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency. It was held in Kunming, Yunan province, around the time when the first annual defence dialogue took place.

During December 2008, while the second annual defence dialogue was held in New Delhi, joint exercises took place in Belgaum, Karnataka. Last year, no exercise was scheduled since China could not spare its forces for the engagement. The joint exercises are expected to be held this year.

Over the last two years, the then Chief of Air Staff Fali H. Major and the then Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta had visited China. Last year on the sidelines of a security summit in Singapore, Admiral Mehta held talks with Chinese Deputy Chief of the General Staff Ma Xiaotian suggesting that on anti-piracy could be done in a loosely coordinated manner.

While New Delhi has maintained that there is no increase in the number of incursions on the Sino-Indian border, the issue is expected to figure during the dialogue. Recently, during his visit to New Delhi, the PLA Deputy Chief of General Staff General Ge Zhen Feng told Defence Minister A.K. Antony that the present generation of political leadership in both countries would solve the border dispute through political negotiations and dialogue.

On his part, Mr. Antony said India did not want to escalate differences and would work together to strengthen cooperation in various areas to the benefit of both countries.

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