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Chinese Defence Minister praises IAF pilots' flying skills

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SKAT performing at Air Show China 2008

BEIJING (PTI): Indian Air Force's Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team (SKAT) has won praise from an unexpected quarter -- Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie.

Liang, who is also member of the Central Military Commission and State Councillor met Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major at Zhuhai and expressed his 'deep appreciation' for SKAT’s participation in the Air Show China 2008. 

He praised the flying skills of SKAT which were demonstrated in an aerobatics display at the inaugural ceremony of the air show, the first-ever performance over Chinese airspace.

A contingent of 48 officers and 88 airmen led by group Captain A Saxena and two An-32s and one IL-76 transport aircraft are in China to support the 12 aircraft SKAT.

Liang and Major reviewed the ongoing bilateral military-to-military exchanges and agreed that 'good progress' had been made in recent times.

The Chinese Defence Minister said with the signing of the MoU on Defence Co-operation during the visit of India's Defence Minister to China in 2006 and the first Joint Anti-Terrorism Training Exercise in late 2007, in Kunming, China, the two sides had expanded their co-operation.

He expressed the view that the ongoing visit of the Chief of Air Staff to China and that of the Chief of the PLA Navy, Admiral Wu Shengli to India would see even more progress being made in the strengthening of defence contacts between the two neighbouring nations.

Both the ministers expressed hope that defence level contacts between the two countries could be further developed. Liang said he was looking forward to visit India as soon as possible.

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