WASHINGTON: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is likely to make his first official trip to China next month, his foreign minister has said.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the $50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a game changer for Pakistan and has taken off.
Pakistan, he said, wants an early completing of these projects and is in talks with the Chinese on how to focus on areas that are important to the new government.
“Hopefully next month in November the prime minister would be making his first official visit to China to discuss this further,” Qureshi told a Washington audience when he was asked about reports of changes in the ambitious CPEC projects.
“Obviously infrastructure is required. We need roads and rail links, optic fibers and everything of that sort. We want them to help us in areas like industrial development, enhancing agriculture productivity, helping us alleviate poverty in the country,” he said to a question at the US Institute of Peace.
Qureshi said the Khan government is talking about how to improve lives and livelihoods, how labour-intensive industry can be relocated into Pakistan and give jobs.
“So that is an ongoing discussion and hopefully next month in November, the prime minister would be taking his first official visit to China to discuss this further,” the top Pakistani diplomat said.
When asked about increasing relationship between Pakistan and China, Qureshi said this is not at the cost of the ties with the US.
“US was, is and will remain an important global player. You are a technological, economic and military power. We recognise that. There’s a history of our relationship. Let’s not forget that,” he said.
Noting that currently there are challenges in the US- Chinese relationship, Qureshi argued that Beijing can play an important constructive role with regard to Afghanistan and peace in the region.
“I am of the view and Pakistan is of the view that China can play a constructive role and China must be engaged. China has initiated a trilateral meeting.. they had one in Beijing and next month in December we might have the second round in Kabul,” he said.