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Indian Navy chief to visit China next week

Admiral Mehta will witness the naval fleet review at China's Quingdao port. File photo

NEW DELHI (BNS): Amidst increased thaw in military ties with China in recent years, Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta will visit that country next week to take part in the first Chinese international naval fleet review.

Besides witnessing the fleet review in which two Indian warships are participating, Admiral Mehta will also deliver a lecture on 'Harmonious Seas' at a symposium organised to mark the occasion, agencies quoting official sources said here Thursday.

Admiral Mehta's visit comes just two months after the Peoples Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N) accused the Indian Navy of sending a submarine “to tail its Destroyers” that were heading to the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy operations.

China had then claimed that its Destroyers had “forced” the Indian submarine to surface, but India stoutly refuted the allegation, saying the submarine that surfaced did not belong to its fleet.

India's two warships from the Eastern Fleet, which are already on a two-month-long East Asia deployment, would participate in the fleet review being held at the Qingdao port, Navy sources said.

The Indian warships would be joined by two Pakistan warships, including a Type-21 frigate, during the fleet review from April 20 to 24.

Later, the Indian warships would carry out a passage exercise with the PLA-N in South China Sea, before continuing their East Asia and Pacific Ocean deployment till May 19.

Among the Navy's eastern fleet warships, which sailed from India's east coast in the middle of March, were Delhi-class guided missile Destroyer INS Mumbai, Rajput-class Destroyer INS Ranvijay, Khukri-class missile Corvette INS Khanjar and Fleet Replenishment Ship INS Jyoti.

Of these, INS Jyoti and another warship would take part in the fleet review, according to agencies. India had earlier sent its warships to China in early 2007 for a passage exercise.

On their way to the Chinese port, the Indian warships have visited several ports, including those in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

After their Chinese stopover, the warships would proceed for visits to Japan and South Korea, where they would carry out well-structured annual naval exercises and passage exercises with the navies of those countries, the sources said.

India also plans to send its warships from the Western Fleet to the Atlantic Ocean for port calls all along the way in West Asia and Africa, the sources said. The Western Fleet deployment would happen sometime in May-June this year.

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