Omens positive on both sides for Wen's India visit

By Shastri Ramachandaran
0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times, December 14, 2010
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In the run-up to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's three-day visit to India beginning on Wednesday, both sides appear to be striking the right notes to create an upbeat atmosphere for the visit.

Although neither India nor China denies that tricky issues remain in negotiating better bilateral relations, neither country wants to allow their differences to stand in the way of increased cooperation and collaboration.

Briefing journalists on the visit, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on December 7 "both China and India are neighbors and partners rather than competitors." Two days later, official sources close to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the India-European Union Summit in Brussels conveyed to the media that the fundamentals of the relationship between India and China were "strong."

Both Wen and Singh are driven by the urge to make relations between the two countries grow, regardless of the thorny issues on the agenda.

For India, the most immediate and important issue is the Chinese authorities stapling, instead of stamping on the passport, visas issued to Kashmir residents. The other equally important issue is the long-standing boundary dispute between the two countries.

On the issue of stapled visas, official sources accompanying Prime Minister Singh to Brussels informed journalists that Beijing has told New Delhi that "some solution" would be found. The officials said that this is the first such official assurance to come from Beijing. India was also assured that the issue was "not political" but "technical."

The same government source said that the Chinese leadership did not want this issue to adversely affect bilateral relations. Clearly, the expectation is that the problem of stapled visas will be resolved to India's satisfaction. No public announcement on the matter before or during the visit of Premier Wen is expected as it is not considered a "political" issue by the Chinese side.

The Indian government is assuming that over a period of time, beginning soon, the Chinese authorities will abandon the practice of issuing stapled visas. The resolution of this issue, which recently loomed large over India-China relations, may pave the way for resumption of defense exchanges.

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