Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang to visit Pakistan after attending SCO meet in India

Beijing: China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang will travel to Pakistan on Friday on a two-day visit after attending the meeting of the SCO Foreign Ministers hosted by India in Goa, it was announced here on Thursday.

Qin is attending the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) Foreign Ministers meeting being held on May 4 and 5 at Panaji in Goa where his Pakistan counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari too is taking part.

Besides being the Foreign Minister, Qin is also the State Councillor, a higher rank associated with the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

SCO bloc consists of China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India holds the presidency of the grouping for this year.

Significantly the Chinese Foreign Ministry while announcing the visit of Qin to Myanmar and India on May 2 did not include his visit to Islamabad though Pakistan media reported about it.

Instead, the ministry announced his visit to Pakistan separately on Thursday during which he is due to take part in China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ meeting.

The trilateral is being held less than a month after the “Neighbouring Countries of Afghanistan Plus Afghanistan” Foreign Ministers meeting of China, Russia, Pakistan and Iran in Samarkand, in which Qin presided.

Announcing Qin’s visit to Pakistan, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said that this will be his first visit to Pakistan after taking charge and “an important part of the recent close and frequent interactions between the high levels of China and Pakistan”.

The reference apparently was the just concluded maiden visit of Pakistan’s new Army Chief Asim Munir, here during which he held a series of meetings with top Chinese Generals and top diplomat Wang Yi who is the Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee.

During Gen. Munir’s visit, China’s new Premier Li Qiang also held his first phone call with Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and promised continued financial help for Pakistan which is facing a serious political and economic crisis.

In Pakistan Qin will “meet with the leader of Pakistan and co-chair the fourth round of China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari”, the foreign ministry statement which included a Q&A posted on the website on Friday said.

“The two sides will have in-person and in-depth communication on bilateral relations and the international and regional situation,” it said.

“China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners and ironclad friends. The friendship is time honoured”, it further said recalling Sharif’s “successful” visit to China last November and Li’s April 27 phone call with him.

The foreign ministry also hoped that the ties between the two nations would further deepen with the visit of the Chinese foreign minister.

“China hopes that this visit will follow through on the important common understandings between the leaders of the two countries, further, deepen strategic communication and practical cooperation, promote the building of an ever-closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era, and contribute positive energy to the region and the wider world,” it said.

About why the fifth China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue in less than a month of Samarkand meeting, it said, “although the people of Afghanistan have tided over the most difficult time, they still face severe challenges at the moment and are in dire need of more support and help from the rest of the world”.

The international community need to step up contact and dialogue with the Afghan interim government, support its effort of reconstruction and development, and encourage it to build an inclusive government, exercise moderate governance, develop friendly relations with its neighbours and firmly fight terrorism, it said.

The Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighbouring Countries of Afghanistan and the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue are both important platforms for exchanges and cooperation on issues related to Afghanistan and conducive to more consensus among regional countries on the Afghan issue, it said.

“China hopes to exchange views with Afghanistan and Pakistan on the situation in Afghanistan and tri-party cooperation at the Dialogue, so as to build up consensus, consolidate mutual trust, and jointly contribute to peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region”, it said.

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