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India raises concerns over stapled visas with China

India and China today held "open and candid" discussions on a host of issues, including the row over stapled visas for Kashmiris, Sino-Pak nuclear ties, Chinese activities in PoK and existence of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan during their strategic dialogue.

world Updated: Nov 16, 2010 22:49 IST

India and China on Tuesday held "open and candid" discussions on a host of issues, including the row over stapled visas for Kashmiris, Sino-Pak nuclear ties, Chinese activities in PoK and existence of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan during their strategic dialogue.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, who headed the Indian delegation, held talks with her Chinese counterpart Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun as part of the fourth round of strategic dialogue.

The talks are regarded as a part of wider consultative process to prepare the ground work for next month's visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to New Delhi.

Rao's talks came close on the heels of a lengthy bilateral meeting between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jeichi on the sidelines of RIC Foreign Ministers summit at Wuhan in China.

The dialogue between Rao and Zhang, regarded as the most comprehensive compared to the other three rounds, covered a host of issues, including the stapled visas being issued by China to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, presence of Chinese personnel building various projects in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), terrorist safe havens in Pakistan as well as Beijing's plans to build new nuclear power projects in Pakistan.

"We brought up the question of stapled visas and need for China to find solution to this. This was an issue that had triggered serious concerns in India," Rao told reporters here.

"It is an issue of sovereignty and issue of right of all our nationals to be treated at par and equally. The seriousness with which it was viewed has been conveyed," the top diplomat underlined.

The issue of stapled visas has become a major irritant in bilateral ties as the recent refusal of visa to top Indian General B S Jaswal on the ground that he headed troops of Northern Command, which included Jammu and Kashmir, resulted in India putting on hold defence exchanges with China.

Rao said they had also discussed Sino-Pak nuclear cooperation and Chinese involvement in various projects in PoK.

"We did speak about Sino-Pak nuclear cooperation. We also spoke about Chinese involvement in various projects in POK, including development of communications and roads," the Foreign Secretary said, adding "It was an open and candid discussions".

During her four-and-a-half-hour talks, Rao also raised the issue of terrorism and militant groups finding safe havens in Pakistan.

"We spoke about concerns about terrorism and terrorist groups and safe heavens in Pakistan," she said.