CHINA / National

Minister's visit to plan military exchanges
By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-05-29 05:39

India's Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee arrived in China yesterday, seeking to expand military co-operation between Beijing and New Deli.

Mukherjee is due to meet his Chinese counterpart Cao Gangchuan and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing today and will call on Premier Wen Jiabao tomorrow.

"My efforts will be to have a much larger participation in joint military exercises, more exchange visits by armed forces personnel and an expanded mutual training programme," Mukherjee was quoted as saying by Indian media ahead of the trip.

According to an Indian Defence Ministry spokesman, the visit will be an important milestone and a major confidence building measure in the progressive relations between India and China.

He said the two countries are expected to conclude a memorandum of understanding to institutionalise training and exercise exchanges between the armed forces, defence officials and military experts.

Observers said such a deal could become an instrument for a regular and sustained dialogue between the two countries on defence issues.

Senior officials from the ministries of defence and external affairs and the defence research and development organization will accompany Mukherjee.

During his five-day China visit, he will also visit military bases in Beijing, Shanghai and Lanzhou, capital of Northwest China's Gansu Province.

Mukherjee kicked off his three-nation tour in Tokyo last Wednesday. He will fly to Singapore on Friday.

(China Daily 05/29/2006 page2)