China’s foreign minister meets Qureshi; discusses bilateral issues, CPEC

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Islamabad: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday and discussed various issues of mutual interest, including the USD 50-billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

This is the first high-level visit by a Chinese official to Islamabad since the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed office after the July 25 elections.

The two leaders exchanged ideas on bilateral relations and discussed regional security and the peace process in Afghanistan, the Dawn reported.

“We are proud of Pakistan and China’s friendship,” Qureshi said after the meeting, noting that the friendship had “withstood every test”.

Both foreign ministers resolved during the meeting to strengthen strategic cooperation, and China was assured of Pakistan’s continued commitment to CPEC as a priority project, the daily said.

The Chinese foreign minister also expressed China’s wish to help strengthen and stabilise Pakistan’s economy.

The Chinese foreign office also extended an invitation to Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit the country as the guest of honour.

Wang had arrived in Islamabad on Friday accompanied by three other cabinet colleagues for a three-day trip.

In addition to meeting his Pakistani counterpart, the Chinese foreign minister will meet Prime Minister Khan, outgoing president Mamnoon Hussain, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa. 

He is also likely to meet President-elect Arif Alvi.

The visit by Wang, who is also designated as the State Councillor which makes him the top diplomat of China, comes two days after that of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo met new Prime Minister Khan and pressed him to take “sustained and decisive measures” against terrorists threatening the regional peace and stability.

Ahead of the visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying had hoped that the two sides, through the visit, could consolidate traditional friendship, all-round cooperation and elevate China-Pakistan all-weather strategic and cooperative partnership.

Wang’s visit also comes amidst reports of unease in Beijing over how the new PTI government would approach over USD 50 billion Chinese investments in various projects under the CPEC connecting China’s Muslim-majority Xinjiang province with Gwadar port in Pakistan.

Khan in the past had criticised former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for the lack of transparency and corruption in the CPEC projects.

Newly-appointed Finance Minister Asad Umar has promised to bring about transparency to the CPEC projects whose details remained closely guarded secrets.

India has protested to China over the CPEC, which is being built through Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK).