General Dalbir Singh Suhag to visit People's Liberation Army eastern theatre command

Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag wrapped up his visit to Beijing and left for field visits.

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Dalbir Singh Suhag

Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag left for the Chinese city of Nanjing on Tuesday where he is due to visit the PLA's eastern theatre command as well as army command college that trains senior officers. Gen Suhag, who held talks with China's Central Military Commission (CMC) Vice Chairman General Xu Qiliang and head of China's ground forces Gen Li Zuocheng, wrapped up his visit to Beijing and left for field visits, officials said.

At Nanjing he is also scheduled to interact with General Liu Yuejun, Commander of the Eastern Theatre Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). He will also visit military installations including an infantry division and army air defence brigades. He is scheduled to go to Xian before returning home on November 24.

Gen Suhag is visiting China at the invitation of General Fan Changlong, another Vice Chairman, CMC who is currently visiting Tanzania. During Gen Suhag's meeting with Xu on Monday, both the generals "reiterated their desire to keep up the momentum of defence exchanges and the need to keep the borders tranquil and peaceful," an Indian Embassy statement said.

In a press release on Monday's talks between Gen Suhag and Gen Xu, the Chinese Defence Ministry quoted Xu as saying that the militaries of the two countries should serve as the booster and stabiliser in the development of relations between China and India.

Xu said that China and India have a long history of friendship, and the Chinese side attaches great importance to developing relations between with India. Referring to nine meetings between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi he said both the leaders reached important consensuses on upgrading bilateral ties.

The military-to-military relations between the two countries have generally maintained the good momentum of development, and the two militaries should resolutely implement the consensuses reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthen pragmatic exchange and cooperation, deepen strategic mutual trust and serve as the booster and stabiliser in development of bilateral relations, Xu said.

Xu wished that the armies of the two countries would further strengthen border management and control and enhance border defence cooperation, so as to maintain the peace and tranquillity in the border areas, the statement said. 

During the visit, General Suhag is expected to discuss a host of issues including efficacy of mechanism put in place to deal with transgressions of troops aggressively patrolling the areas claimed by both the countries. Several such transgressions by Chinese troops specially in the Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh sectors in the recent past resulted in long standoffs between troops on both sides.

While relations between the two militaries improved with visits by high-level officials including Defence Ministers, officials say the relations remained tenuous with steady increase of Pakistan-related issues affecting their growth.

General Suhag's visit also comes at a time when relations between the two countries were stressed by issues like the US $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China blocking India's membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and move to impose a UN ban on JeM Chief Masood Azhar.

However, officials on both sides say despite contentious issues, both sides managed to keep up the dialogue at the highest level going, ensuring peace and tranquillity along the 3,488 km long Line of Actual Control (LAC). Besides the constant interactions under the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) to address ground level issues, the two sides also held 19 rounds of talks to resolve the border dispute. 

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