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Krishna to take up stapled visas with China
Published on 3 Apr. 2010 11:51 PM IST
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India will take up with China its key concerns, including on the boundary issue, Chinese activities in Jammu and Kashmir and issuing of stapled visas to Indians from Jammu and Kashmir, when External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna goes to Beijing Monday.
“There are areas of divergence on the boundary issue with China, the Chinese construction activities in Jammu and Kashmir and the issuing of stapled visas to Kashmiris,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash told reporters here Saturday.
“Both sides have the maturity and confidence to address all these issues in a spirit of friendship and to narrow down areas of divergence,” Prakash said.
Terming the development of relations with China as “one of the top most priorities of India’s foreign policy”, Prakash said there was an overarching political consensus in the country for developing ties with Beijing.
Krishna goes to Beijing on a four-day visit Monday, his first to that country since becoming foreign minister in May last year. He will be accompanied by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and senior officials of the external affairs ministry.
Krishna will hold wide-ranging talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and discuss an entire spectrum of bilateral relations and further intensification of bilateral trade that has crossed $40 billion. He will also call on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
Krishna will formally open the Festival of India in China and attend a reception to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The two sides are likely to set dates for the 14th round of talks between their special representatives to resolve the boundary dispute that sparked a war in 1962.
His visit will also set the stage for President Pratibha Patil’s trip to Beijing later this year.
Trade imbalance, which is heavily tilted in favour of China, will also figure in the discussions. In 2009, when bilateral trade was estimated to be $43 billion, India’s trade deficit turned out to be whopping $15.8 billion.
India will press for greater market access to Indian commodities and the easing of barriers to promote more balanced trade relations.
Relations with Beijing came under strain last year over a host of issues, including reported intrusion by Chinese troops and China’s claims over Arunachal Pradesh.
The focus will be on building upon positives and increasing convergence of interests and perspectives on a range of global issues like climate change, the international financial crisis and trade negotiations, Prakash said.
But New Delhi underlined that its concerns over some issues need to be addressed in the interest of better relations between the two countries.
Ahead of Krishna’s visit, India Saturday asked China to stop the dual practice of issuing stapled visas to Indians from Jammu and Kashmir and asked Beijing to be sensitive to New Delhi’s “core concern” on this issue.
“We have asked the Chinese side to do away with dual visa policy policy,” Gautam Bambawale, joint secretary in charge of China and East Asia in the external affairs ministry, told reporters here.
“This is a matter of core concern for India because it goes to the heart of our territorial sovereignty and integrity,” Bambawale said, adding that India will continue to press China to address this issue.
Meanwhile, India Saturday said it has sought another round of consular access to 21 Indians lodged in Chinese prisons for smuggling diamonds and requested China to allow them to meet their immediate families.
“We have asked for another round of consular access. There have been already three rounds of consular access so far,” Gautam Bambawale, joint secretary in charge of China and East Asia in the external affairs, told reporters here.
“There have been some complaints about the quality of food. They are mostly vegetarians. On the whole, they are healthy and doing well,” said Bambawale.
There will be enough time to take up visa and consular issues during the visit, he said when asked whether the issue will figure during discussions between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Chinese leaders in Beijing next week.
There is likely to be a meeting between the prisoners, in prisons in the southern city of Shenzhen, and their immediate families soon, he said.
Twenty-one Indians, most of them from the diamond hub of Surat in Gujarat, were among 33 foreigners arrested in Shenzhen early January on charges of smuggling diamonds and money laundering.
“We hope they will get the best of legal assistance,” he said.
Many Indian diamond companies have set up processing units in China, which has one of the world’s fastest-growing diamond markets.

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