Beijing: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday arrived in Beijing on his first official visit to China for high-level talks with top military officials to consolidate ties between the armed forces of the two countries.
Parrikar arrived from Shanghai by a special aircraft and will hold talks with top Chinese officials, including Defence Minister Gen Chang Wanquan and Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) Gen Fan Changlong on Sunday. He is also due to call on Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Later, he would visit China's recently integrated western command military headquarters which has jurisdiction over border with India.
Parrikar is accompanied by senior officials from army and navy, besides the defence ministry.
Indian officials said the visit is aimed at further consolidating the defence relations between the two countries which showed considerable improvement in the last few years with periodic high-level interactions between the two armed forces.
Parrikar's five-day visit will be immediately followed by a visit by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, who is scheduled to hold the 19th Boundary Dialogue with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi later next week.
Doval and Yang, who are designated Special Representatives for boundary talks, also have a mandate to discuss entire gamut of bilateral issues.
The contentious issue of China blocking India's attempts in the UN to ban Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e- Mohammad's chief Masood Azhar is expected to figure in their talks.
Before leaving for Beijing, Parrikar visited Urban Planning Exhibition Centre in Shanghai where he was briefed by the Chinese officials on the urban planning achievements in China's biggest metropolis which has a population of over 22 million. The briefing focused on use of innovative technologies and smart city transportations, Indian Consulate in Shanghai said in a statement.
He also addressed members of the Indian community at a meeting held at the Shanghai Consulate where he spoke of his government's "steadfast commitment" at securing interests of Indians living abroad.
The defence minister said there was a significant momentum in India's economy, which had been successful in attracting large investments under the 'Make in India' initiative.
He also answered questions from the audience on issues ranging from India's self-reliance in defence production, education to high-end technologies and retaining skilled talented students, the statement said.