PM hosts dinner for Wen, airs concerns over stapled visas

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

NEW DELHI - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday hosted a private dinner for visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and aired concerns over China issuing stapled visas for residents of Jammu and Kashmir, even while the two leaders agreed the two countries were partners and not rivals in a changing world order.

Manmohan Singh and Wen spent some time by themselves before joining the other guests for dinner at the prime minister’s official residence. Wen began his three-day visit to India Wednesday afternoon with a trip to the Tagore International School and an address to captains of Indian industry.

Unlike the large dinner the prime minister hosted for US President Barack Obama last month, the private dinner for the Chinese leader was attended only by senior ministers, politicians and officials from both sides.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley and Biju Janata Dal MP Jai Panda were among those present at the dinner.

National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and India’s Ambassador to China S.Jaishankar were among senior officials present.

From the Chinese side, only senior ministers, including Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, and China’s Ambassador to India Zhang Yan were among those present.

The two leaders, who have met many times on the sidelines of multilateral summits, assured each other that the relationship between the two emerging powers was that of complementarity and not one of rivalry, informed sources said.

Taking up the issue of China issuing stapled visas for residents of Jammu and Kashmir, Manmohan Singh also reminded the Chinese premier of the compelling need for both sides to be sensitive to each other’s core concerns. He let it be known that Kashmir was a core concern for India in the same manner as Taiwan and Tibet were for China.

Manmohan Singh is also understood to have sought China’s support for India’s candidature for an expanded UN Security Council.

Wen will be accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan Thursday morning before he sits down for delegation-level talks with Manmohan Singh. Trade-related issues, including ways to address $19.2 billion deficit, will figure prominently in the discussions.

India will pitch for greater access for Indian goods in the Chinese market as well as greater Chinese investment in India, specially in the infrastructure sector.

The two leaders are expected to discuss all issues of concern, including stapled visas, Chinese investment in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, the boundary issue and the cross-border rivers.

They will also discuss a host of global issues, including UN reforms, the global financial crisis, climate change and global terrorism.

will not be displayed