Stapled visas to Kashmiris to figure in Singh-Wen talks

The controversial issue of stapled Chinese visas to Kashmiris and Sino-India economic ties are expected to figure in crucial talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao.

Hanoi: The controversial issue of stapled Chinese visas to Kashmiris and Sino-India economic ties are expected to figure in crucial talks between Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao here on Friday.

China started the practice of issuing the stapled visas about two years back and the issue triggered a major row in July this year when Beijing wanted to give such a visa to
India`s Northern Area Commander Lt Gen BS Jaswal.

India responded by suspending high-level defence exchanges for which Lt Gen Jaswal was travelling to Beijing and has repeatedly made it clear that these will remain on
"pause" till China reverts to its earlier position on Jammu and Kashmir.

The meeting between Dr Singh and Wen, the first top level contact since the July incident, will take place in the backdrop of Beijing`s unwillingness to review its policy.
China has said it will not relent on the issue of stapled visas to people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Setting a positive tone ahead of his meeting with Wen, Prime Minister Singh yesterday said in Putrajaya in Malaysia that there is "enormous" possibility of India and China
working together as the world has enough space to accommodate the growth ambitions of both the countries.

Singh, while replying to a question on India-China relations after delivering a lecture on `India`s Development Experience`, kept aside the controversial issues like stapled
visas over which the two countries had a war of words on Tuesday.

The issue is expected to figure in talks that Singh will have with Wen tomorrow on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit here.

Rejecting India`s assertions that Beijing should respect its sensitivities on Kashmir, China on Tuesday said its policy of issuing stapled visas to Kashmiris would remain unchanged.

Ma Zhaoxu, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, had said at his bi-weekly briefing, "As for the Indian Kashmir visa our policy is consistent and has stayed unchanged."

He was replying to questions whether the issue would come up for discussions at the meeting between Singh and Wen.

The comments prompted India to assert that it wants China to follow a uniform policy on issuing visas to all Indians.

Sources in Kuala Lumpur, where Prime Minister Singh was on a visit, said Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, and it expects China to follow a uniform policy while
granting visas to Indians "regardless of ethnicity or place of domicile" of the applicant.

"Our position is very well articulated and it has been conveyed in unambiguous terms to the Chinese friends," sources accompanying the Prime Minister said.

PTI

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