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Stapled visas to figure in India-China talks

With China issuing stapled visas to a team of karatekas from Arunachal, India is expected to raise the contentious issue with China at the 15th round of boundary talks later this year.



New Delhi: With China issuing stapled visas to a team of karatekas from Arunachal Pradesh, India is expected to raise the contentious issue with China at the 15th round of boundary talks between special representatives of the two countries later this year.

National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and State Councillor Dai Bingguo, special representatives of India and China respectively, are likely to hold the delegation-level boundary talks here in October-November, a reliable source said.

The issue of stapled visas will figure in the talks as they are implicitly about territorial claims, the source said.

Besides the visa issue, the special representatives are also expected to discuss a gamut of strategic and regional issues, including the proposed India-US-Japan forum which Beijing sees as a move to contain its rise in Asia.

In a fresh bid to up the ante over its territorial claims over India`s northeastern state, China recently issued stapled visas, which are not accepted by India, to a team of sportspersons from Arunachal Pradesh.

The team was not allowed by immigration authorities to board a flight to Beijing at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here Tuesday for not having regular visas.

The players were set to represent India at the 11th Asian Karate-do Championship (junior and cadet) at Quanghou City in Fujjian province of China from July 20 to 25.

Issuing stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh came as a bit of surprise to Indian officials dealing with China as Beijing earlier refused to give visas to residents of the northeasternern state they claim as South Tibet, a part of China. Beijing maintained that people from Arunachal did not require visas to travel from one part of the country (China) to another.

India had protested the practice and has asserted that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India.

The boundary talks have not made much progress despite 14 rounds between special representatives.

For at least last two years, China has reasserted its claims over Arunachal Pradesh. In 2009, it opposed a development loan by Asian Development Bank to India on grounds that a part of it was meant for the development of Arunchal Pradesh which it regards as a disputed area.

As part of its strategy to put India on the defensive, China, which earlier maintained neutrality on the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, also started issuing stapled visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir a couple of years ago, provoking New Delhi to suspend defence exchanges with Beijing last year.

However, after New Delhi vehemently protested during the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Hanoi last year, Beijing has stopped stapled visas from residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

No stapled visas has been issued to Kashmiris travelling to China since Oct 16, 2010, a senior official said.

IANS

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