China ready to work on stapled visa issue with India

Beijing: China is "ready to work" with India to have "friendly consultation" and properly handle the row over the stapled visa issue, a top foreign ministry official said on Tuesday, on the eve of a key meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Replying to a question about whether the leaders will discuss issues concerning stapled visas and resumption of defence talks, Hong Lie told a media briefing here that China is ready to solve issues relating to people to people exchanges.

"As for the issue you mentioned, China is ready to work with India to have friendly consultation and properly handle the issues relating to people to people exchanges in our bilateral relations," Hong said.

"We are very confident about the prospect of bilateral relations," he said. China was also willing to work with India on resumption of defence exchanges.

Singh and Hu will meet tomorrow in Sanya in China on the sidelines of BRICS summit.

The statement comes in the backdrop of Beijing granting normal visas to four journalists born in Jammu & Kashmir, who are visiting Sanya in Hainan province to cover the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, (BRICS) summit beginning tomorrow.

India called off defence exchanges last year after China refused visa to an Indian Army General B S Jaswal on the ground that he headed troops in Jammu and Kashmir.

China apparently started issuing stapled visas to residents of J&K since 2008 on the ground that it is a "disputed" territory for which India raised vociferous objections.

Indian officials were cautiously optimistic that China may have stopped the practise, taking Indian concerns into consideration.

In a guarded response to Singh-Hu meeting at Sanya, Hong said "we welcome Prime Minister`s attendance at the BRICS leaders meeting. President Hu will have meeting with him to exchange views on bilateral relations as well as international and regional issues of common interest."

In recent years China-India relations have achieved a sound development with frequent exchanges and practical co-operation across the board, he said adding that "we have maintained a close contact and communication on major international and regional issues."

He said this year is the year of exchanges between the two countries there would be a series of activities to increase mutual understanding and cooperation.

"We are very confident about the prospect of bilateral relations," he said.

Besides Hu, Singh is scheduled to have bilateral meetings with the leaders of other BRICS countries.

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