India, China to ink defence accord
The deal would institutionalise training, exercises and other contacts between the two countries' armed forces.india Updated: May 29, 2006 13:43 IST
China and India are scheduled to sign an agreement to expand military cooperation during Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit this week, the Indian embassy said on Monday.
Mukherjee, who arrived in Beijing on Sunday, will oversee the signing of the accord, which the Indian defence ministry had said would institutionalise training, exercises and other contacts between the two countries' armed forces.
"During the visit, the two sides are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding on exchanges and cooperation in the field of defence," the Indian embassy said in a statement issued on Monday.
The agreement will aim to develop "a strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity between India and China," and at enhancing trust between the two militaries, the Indian defence ministry said ahead of Mukherjee's visit.
Mukherjee is scheduled to hold meetings with his Chinese counterpart, Cao Gangchuan, and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing on Monday, the China Daily newspaper reported.
He will also call on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday.
"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 his trip, according to the China Daily.
An Indian defence ministry spokesman said the visit would be an important milestone and a major confidence building measure in Indian-Chinese relations, the daily said.
The agreement to be signed could become an instrument for a regular and sustained dialogue between the two countries on defence issues, the paper said.
Senior officials from the ministries of defence and external affairs and the defence research and development organisation are accompanying Mukherjee.
During his five-day China trip, Mukherjee will visit military bases in Beijing and Shanghai as well as in Lanzhou, the capital of northwest China's Gansu province, the embassy and China Daily said.
He will be given a tour of select defense establishments, the embassy said.
China-India relations have improved in recent years as both countries have made efforts to complement instead of compete with each other's growth.
However, the two still have not resolved a decades-old border dispute -- the result of a brief but bitter conflict in 1962.