New Delhi, Nov 18 : A 10 member Indian Army delegation today left for Beijing to attend the final planning conference to decide the exact theme, setting and level of participation for first-ever Sino-Indian military combat exercise to jointly counter terror and insurgency.
The exercise is likely to be held in hilly training areas near Belgaum in Karnataka. It is to be conducted for a duration of two weeks and will commence from either second or third week of December. Exact dates will finalised after all the modalities are discussed with the visiting Indian delegation.
The first ever Sino-Indian exercise on Indian soil is indicative of the mutual concerns of the two countries in tackling terrorist violence in the region.
"A 10 member Indian Army delegation led by a Brigadier today left for Beijing to attend final planning conference and to tie up modalities for the conduct of first-ever Sino-Indian military exercise," said a top Defence Ministry source.
"The aim of the exercise is to expand and strengthen military-to-military ties between the two armed forces in keeping with this policy to constructively engage China in the military arena," the source said.
The exercise will also help to evolve a collaborative security mechanism among Asia powers in near future, the source added.
A 13-member Chinese delegation led by a Senior Colonel (equivalent to Brigadier in Indian Army) was in India from October 21-23 to attend the initial planning conference.
The Indian Air Force will also participate in the exercise by providing air assets to conduct special heliborne manoeuvres and assault operations.
Sino-Indian military ties have seen a thaw in recent times with Chinese Navy chief Admiral Wu Sheng Li coming on his maiden visit to India in November 2008 and Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major going to Beijing.
The military ties between the Indian and Chinese armed forces have been building since December 2007, which led to the first-ever joint counter-terrorism exercise between the two armies at Kunming.
India and China signed a memorandum of understanding in May 2006 during a visit by the then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee that stipulated that the two countries would hold joint military exercises, and join forces in counter-terrorism operations. By Praful Kumar Singh