Visa free travel for Chinese, Indian airline staff

Beijing, May 27 (IANS) The airline staff of India and China will henceforth enjoy visa free travel between their countries following an agreement signed during the visit of Indian President Pratibha Patil.

On the second day of President Patil’s six-day visit, the two countries inked an agreement on streamlining the visa system for airline staff and two Memorandums of Understanding (MoS) for extending cooperation in the areas of sports and civil administration.

The agreements were signed after an hour-long meeting between President Patil and President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of People.

The agreement on streamlining airline staff visas was signed by Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue.

‘Streamlining the visas would now mean that the airlines staff of the two countries will now enjoy visa free entry and exit,’ Rao later told reporters.

The second document that was signed was between the Indian Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension and the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security on cooperation in the field of civil services, personnel management and public administration.

The third MoU was on sports cooperation between the two countries. The MoU was between the Indian sports ministry and the Chinese General Administration of Sports.

Chinese Sports Minister Liu Peng signed the MoU on sports cooperation and Vice Minister Wang Xiao Qu signed the cooperation in the area of civil administration.

Indian ambassador to China S. Jaishankar signed both these documents as Patil and Hu watched.

When asked whether the three documents were ‘light weight ones’ , Rao said both the countries have ‘reached a level of maturity’.

‘There is an expansion of dialogue and there is multi-faceted cooperation between the two countries. These are substantive issues. This also shows the steady progress the two countries are making,’ Rao said.