India will send a military delegation to China later this year, signalling resumption of defence exchanges between the neighbors after an eight-month hiatus due to denial of a proper visa to an army commander from Jammu and Kashmir last year, officials said Wednesday.
The five-member delegation will be headed by a general from Jammu and Kashmir at the level of a major general commanding a division-sized force.
In Beijing, Chinese defence ministry spokesperson Geng Yansheng said the delegation will include officers from several branches of India’s military.
An Indian defence ministry official said in New Delhi the delegation will have representatives from the Udhampur-based Northern Command, the Lucknow-headquartered Central Command and the Kolkata-based Eastern Command, apart from an officer from the army headquarters in New Delhi.
The dates for the visit are yet to be finalized, but it would happen this year.
“The dates, modalities and the names of officers to be part of the delegation are being worked out now,” the official added.
Xinhua quoted Geng as saying that “new breakthroughs” have emerged in Sino-Indian military ties.
Only by observing the guidelines of mutual respect, understanding and accommodation and seeking common ground while “reserving some differences” can the two militaries enhance their strategic mutual trust, Geng said.
The Chinese side will promote exchanges and cooperation with India in various fields and at different levels, he said.
Earlier this month, India and China had agreed to resume high-level defence exchanges at a meeting April 13 between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao in the Chinese coastal resort of Sanya on the sidelines of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit.
India’s National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon had 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,” Menon had said.
India had suspended defence exchanges last August, strongly objecting to China issuing a visa on a loose sheet to Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal, the then northern army commander who was based in Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir.