Stamp on passport of Kashmiri professor bodes well for India-China talks

 
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New Delhi, Apr. 6 (ANI): Chinese consulate officials have reportedly stamped a visa on a passport, suggesting that talks between the foreign ministers of the world's two most populous countries on the controversial "stapled visa issue," could end up with more positively than expected.

In recent years, according to the Globe and Mail, China has refused to stamp passports from Indian-controlled Kashmir, a region on India's northern border that is claimed by Pakistan.

People from Kashmir who have wanted to visit China, receive a separate visa page stapled into their passport. Those pages proved useless for direct travel from India to China, because Indian authorities would not allow people to leave the country without a stamped visa.

India has wanted stamps, while China wants staples. New Delhi felt a stamped passport reflected the Indian citizenship of residents of Kashmir, while the Chinese were loath to do anything that might be taken as an acknowledgment of India's claim to the disputed territory.

Recently, Professor Mufeed Ahmad received a stamped - not stapled - visa at the Chinese consulate, and sent home a triumphant e-mail upon arrival.

Analysts say the problem cannot be dismissed as a minor part of this week's meetings.

Media reports have described the stapled visas as a "core concern" for External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.

The fact that China issued a stamped visa to Dr. Ahmad was widely reported in the Indian media, which quoted Indian diplomats musing about whether it was a clerical error, or reflected a change in policy in Beijing. (ANI)

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