Visa row: MEA summons China envoy

Visa row: MEA summons China envoy Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: With a major diplomatic row breaking out between India and China over denial of visa to a senior Indian Army General, the Chinese Ambassador to Delhi was on Friday summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs to seek clarifications.

As per reports, the Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yan has been asked to explain the refusal of permission to Northern Army Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal to visit that country because, as per the Chinese, he comes from "sensitive" Jammu and Kashmir.

Indian Ambassador to China S Jaishankar is also said to be present during Yan’s interaction with top MEA officials.

Earlier in the day, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said the visit did not take place "due to certain reasons" but did not elaborate.

He, however, made it clear that China needed to be sensitive to India's concerns.

"While we value our exchanges with China, there must be sensitivity to each others concerns. Our dialogue with China on these issues is ongoing," he said.

Gen Jaswal was to visit China in July as part of defence exchanges but it could not take place in view of the Chinese objection, sources said here today.

In retaliation, India has put on hold visits by three Chinese defence officials here.

The visit by a General-rank officer to China was agreed upon between the two countries in January during the Annual Defence Dialogue, the sources said.

However, at that time it was not decided as to who will be sent by India, they said.

When India conveyed its decision to send Gen Jaswal, China wrote back saying that he came from "sensitive location of Jammu and Kashmir" and that "people from this part of the world come with a different kind of visa", the sources said.

The Chinese side suggested that India may send some other officer and not cancel the visit.

The sources said the Chinese objection came close to the visit and so the matter could not be resolved and the trip could not take place.

"I am told that the visit to China has been postponed for a while. I am not aware of why it is being delayed," Gen Jaswal said.

In Hyderabad, Defence Minister A K Antony ruled out snapping defence ties with China in the wake of the row.

"It is not the question of breaking defence ties with China. We have close ties with China, though they could be some problems occasionally," he told reporters at a function.

Antony said short term problems would not affect overall approach towards China.

Upset over Beijing's action, New Delhi has kept in abeyance permission to three Chinese defence officials to come here for undertaking a course at the National Defence College.

"Two captains of the Chinese army were to visit Pachmarhi and a colonel was to visit the NDC (National Defence College). They have been denied visas," a sources said.

A pending visit by Indian military officials to China has also been put off by India.

Political parties slammed the Chinese action, saying it was an "insult" to India and asked the government to take up the issue strongly.