China appears to have relaxed its practice of giving stapled visas to people hailing from Jammu and Kashmir as it has given proper pasted visas to four journalists from the state.
The journalists are part of the media delegation that will travel with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday to Sanya in China for the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa Summit.
China had in 2008 started the practice of issuing visas on loose sheets of paper to people from Jammu and Kashmir, inferring that it did not recognise the state as being part of India.
This had been an irritant in bilateral relations and the matter had snowballed into a major controversy last July when the then Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General B S Jaswal was given a visa on a loose sheet because he was serving in the state.
India had reacted strongly by suspending high-level military exchanges with China till the issue was sorted out.
The matter was then taken up by the prime minister with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Vietnam in October last year when they had met on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit.
The issue was again raised in December with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao when he visited India.
Asked whether the matter related to stapled visas would be taken up by Dr Singh with the Chinese president during their meeting in Sanya, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash told reporters that he could not pre-judge what would be discussed.
He, however, recalled that during Wen's visit, "the issue had come up and it was agreed that both sides would be putting their heads together to seek an early resolution."
Prakash described India's relations with China as "very important" and pointed out that it was of the nature of "strategic and cooperative partnership" with growing convergences.
"Both sides are making efforts to enhance convergences," he said.
Asked whether Dr Singh could take up the issue of the presence of Chinese troops in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Prakash said he was unable to say what would be on the "broad canvas of subjects" to be discussed by the two leaders.