India, China in Diplomatic Row over Visa Snub

Indian officials called a meeting with China's ambassador Friday to protest Beijing's refusal to issue a visa to an Indian general who oversees operations in the disputed Indian-controlled region of Kashmir.

Ambassador Zhang Yan met with officials in New Delhi amid reports that India had also suspended defense exchanges with China, though India's government would not confirm this.

Lieutenant General B.S. Jaswal was due to travel to China this month for high-level talks but received word from Beijing that he was not welcome because he controls Kashmir, setting off a diplomatic row between the Asian giants.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in full by both and in part by China.

The Indian Foreign Ministry has confirmed that the general's visit to China did not take place. It said New Delhi "values its exchanges" with Beijing but said there must be "sensitivity to each others' concerns."

India and China marked 60 years of diplomatic ties this year and enjoy flourishing trade. But mistrust remains in the relationship due to territorial and other disputes.

India has objected to Beijing's practice of requiring residents of Indian Kashmir to obtain special visas to enter China printed on separate pieces of paper. Other Indians receive Chinese visa stamps in their passports.

India does not recognize Chinese visas printed on separate pieces of paper as valid. The practice effectively prevents Indian Kashmiris from entering China.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, Reuters and Times of India