Indian warships to dock at Chinese port after 6 yrs gap

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After a gap of six years, an armada of Indian warships would dock at the Chinese port city of Shanghai on Wednesday to begin a five-day goodwill tour in a show of camaraderie in spite of misgivings about each other's rise.

The frontline warships include Rana, a Rajput class guided missile destroyer, Shivalik, a stealth frigate, Karmuk, a Kora class Corvettes and INS Shakti, a fleet tanker, and comprise about 1400 sailors would berth at Shanghai's picturesque 'Bund' to make a big splash.

The fleet is led by Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, Chief of the Eastern Command which will interact with top officials of the Chinese Peoples' Liberation Army, who would be making calls on the warships.

This was the first visit by Indian naval ships to China after a gap of six years and both countries have made hectic efforts to demonstrate the emerging rapprochement despite border dispute and misgivings about each other's rise.

"The ships visit is a high point of defence exchanges this year as it is designated by both the countries as an year of friendship and cooperation," Indian Ambassador to China S. Jaishnakar, who is already in Shanghai, said.

Their visit is being handled to make maximum public impact, with variety of programmes involving public participation, which include visits on board the ships by Chinese school children and naval band performances, he said.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who hails from Shanghai, has informed External Affairs Minister S M Krishna during their June 7 talks here that Chinese side looks to provide a great reception to the ships. A similar reception was accorded to a Chinese naval ship when it visited Kochi recently.

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