Indian Navy chief to undertake maiden visit to China

April 13th, 2009 - 12:12 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) Seeking to engage the Chinese military on a broader level, Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta will undertake his maiden visit to China and attend the International Fleet Review beginning next week, an official said here Monday.
Three Indian warships and a tanker of the Eastern Fleet will be participating in the International Fleet Review, being held to mark the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Navy.

“The navy chief will attend the International Fleet Review and will also deliver a lecture at a symposium on the topic of ‘Harmonious Seas’,” a senior navy official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

The fleet review, to be held off Tsingtao port in Shandong province April 20-24, will see participation of Indian guided missile destroyers INS Mumbai and INS Ranveer, the guided missile corvette INS Khanjar and the tanker INS Jyoti. Pakistani warships will also take part in the review.

“We want to engage the Chinese Navy on a broader scale,” the senior official said, without elaborating on the plans.

The Indian Navy has for long expressed apprehension about the increased presence of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean region and hopes to blunt its thrust through greater cooperation. A joint exercise of the two navies has been in the offing for some time now.

The two nations, who fought a brief and bloody border war in 1962, have seen steadily ramping up their military ties.

The Indian Navy chief’s visit follows Chinese Navy chief Admiral Wu Sheng Li’s visit to India last year. Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, had also travelled to Beijing.

The armies of the two countries undertook their first joint exercise at Kunming in China’s Yunnan province in December 2007 and the second at Belgaum in Karnataka last December.

The IAF’s Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT), which has enthralled spectators worldwide with its intricate manoeuvres in the skies, also performed in China for the first time in 2008.

Indian and Chinese warships have been making calls at each other’s ports as part of growing confidence building measures between the two sides.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in May 2006 during a visit to Beijing by then defence minister Pranab Mukherjee that stipulated that they would hold joint military exercises, join forces in counter-terrorism and anti-piracy efforts, and also cooperate in search and rescue operations.

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