Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Visa policy to Kashmiris would remain unchanged: China

Beijing:  Rejecting New Delhi's assertions that Beijing should respect India's sensitivities on Kashmir, China has said its policy of issuing stapled visas to Kashmiris would remain unchanged, in crucial comments ahead of a meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries.

"As for the Indian Kashmir visa our policy is consistent and has stayed unchanged." said  Ma Zhaoxu, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said at his bi-weekly briefing.
Weeks after External Affairs Minister S M Krishna hoped that Beijing would maintain "neutrality" on the affairs related to Jammu and Kashmir and respect India's sensitivities on the issue, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said, "Though China had friendly relations with India, its policy towards the stapled visas for residents of the state remained unchanged."

The comments come ahead of this week's meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of East Asia Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.

China has been issuing stapled visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir since 2008.

The policy had its biggest fall out when China recently declined to grant visa to Lt General B S Jaswal, the chief of Indian Army's northern command, for official talks here on the ground that he headed troops of a disputed area.

The move prompted India to put on hold all defence exchanges with China, even though Beijing played down the move saying that defence ties are intact.

However, an official online map released by China to rival Google displayed the Line of Control, (LOC) in Kashmir region acknowledging the both sides of the areas respectively under the control of India and Pakistan. It also recognises the Northern Areas of Gilgit and Baltistan as part of the "Pakistan controlled" Jammu and Kashmir. Agencies

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