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Indian Army chief likely to visit China next month

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Army chief Gen Bikram Singh is likely to travel to China next month for a visit during which the militaries of the two countries will discuss confidence building measures, particularly on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Gen Singh will become the second Indian Army Chief to visit China when he travels there, possibly in the first week of July, sources said in New Delhi.

The visit, the first under the new Government, comes at a time when the two countries have expressed keenness to improve ties between their armies through increased contacts in the form of visits and joint exercises.

The last time an Indian Army chief visited China was in 2005 when Gen NC Vij travelled there.

The Army Chief is expected to raise the issue of transgressions and incursions by the Chinese side into the Indian territory in the last few years.

In December last year, the then IAF chief NAK Browne was also supposed to visit China but the trip was put off by the then UPA Government.

Contact between armies of the two countries has been growing recently. The two armies are scheduled to hold their fourth joint military exercise in November this year.

The Chinese Defence Minister is also expected to visit India by the end of this year as a reciprocal gesture as last year the then Indian Defence Minister had visited Beijing.

The two Armies have also started the process of setting up a hotline between their Director Generals of Military Operations to quickly defuse tensions, if any, on the Line of Actual Control.

The two countries have signed the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement to avoid any flare-up situation on the LAC, where the two sides have developed positions close to each other and patrol their perceived areas aggressively.

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