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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Stapled visas to Arunachal 'goodwill' gesture: China

PTI  New Delhi, June 09, 2014
First Published: 20:31 IST(9/6/2014) | Last Updated: 00:28 IST(10/6/2014)

China on Monday justified as "goodwill"gesture its policy of issuance of stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh, saying such policy does not "undermine" the positions of both India and China which have disputes over big parts of that area.

"China has resorted to a special arrangement of issuance of stapled visa to address the need for travel of local people. This gesture is out of goodwill and flexibility and if we do not do that we will not be able to address the concern of outbound and overseas travel of these people," visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

Wang further said "if this is acceptable to Indian side, it could be continued in the future as it does not undermine or compromise our respective positions on the border question and we will be able to address the question of these people".

However, Wang, who was addressing a press conference at the end of his two-day visit to India during which he called on President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and held talks with his counterpart Sushma Swaraj, said there can be further discussion on the stapled visa issue during consultation between the consular officials and pitched for a simpler visa regime to enable more people-to-people contact.

China has been issuing stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh, which India has been protesting maintaining that it does not recognise such visas.

Earlier, Yi called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and conveyed his government's keenness to engage with the new Indian dispensation to strengthen cooperation in key areas.

A day after he held three-hour-long talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj, Wang called on Modi at the Race Course Road office in New Delhi. During the call, the external affairs minister was also present.

Read: China optimistic about new ties with India

Sent to New Delhi by Chinese President Xi Jinping as his Special Envoy to meet with new leadership, Wang is also understood to have conveyed China's support for the development of India.

Both India, China have willingness and capability to handle boundary issue properly and not allow it to impact on overall growth of ties. Issuance of stapled visas to people of Arunachal is "gesture of goodwill" as there is dispute over the area between India and China, said Wang.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was the first foreign Head of Government to call up Modi after he took over as Prime Minister. The Chinese Prime Minister had conveyed his government's desire to establish robust partnership with the new government during a call to Modi, who expressed keenness to work closely to deal with any "outstanding issues".

Modi had also noted that China was always a "priority" in India's foreign policy and welcomed greater economic engagement between the two countries.
China has already conveyed its interest in having a top Indian leader attend the 60th anniversary of Panchsheel, the five principles enunciated jointly by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his then Chinese counterpart Zhou Enlai in 1954.

China is hosting a function to mark the occasion on June 28 in which a high-level delegation from Myanmar, which too was associated with Panchasheel concept, is expected to participate.

China had already conveyed to India its President Xi Jinping's wish to visit New Delhi.

Xi and Modi will have an opportunity to meet during the next BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit to be held in Brazil in July. Chinese leadership shared familiarity with Modi as he visited China four times during his long tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat. His victory in the general elections was widely welcomed in the Chinese official media.


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