BEIJING: An Indian military delegation arrived in Beijing on Sunday for a six-day visit, an Indian official said, marking the resumption of defence ties that were frozen for a year over a visa dispute.
The eight-member delegation, headed by Major General Gurmeet Singh, will visit the Chinese capital and the restive northwestern region of Xinjiang, a senior Indian defence official told AFP earlier.
A spokesman for the Indian embassy in Beijing confirmed the delegation arrived Sunday afternoon but could not provide details on their itinerary or with whom they would meet on the Chinese side.
India suspended military exchanges in July last year after Beijing refused to provide a proper stamped visa to the then head of India’s Northern Army Command, which controls the region of Indian Kashmir.
China controls a sliver of Kashmir and regards the region, which is also split with Pakistan, as disputed territory. India has been angered by its practice of providing special stapled visas for visitors from Indian Kashmir.
“We decided to pause defence exchanges because of these differences of opinion,” a second source in the Indian government told AFP previously on condition of anonymity.
“There were still phone calls and other contacts, but now with this visit we are seeing the resumption of normal, full-scale military exchanges,” said the official.
Major General Singh, the delegation chief, heads the Delta Force, part of a specialised anti-insurgency unit deployed in Kashmir.
Suspicion pervades relations between the two Asian giants amid border disputes over Kashmir and the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
The two also fought a short war in 1962, while the presence in India of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, adds to the tension.
Media reports suggested that the decision to resume defence cooperation was reached during talks between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Hu Jintao in China in April.