China vows stronger economic, security ties with Pakistan

 ISLAMABAD: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi vowed on Thursday stronger economic and security ties with Pakistan as he confirmed that President Xi Jinping would soon visit Islamabad.

Mr Wang opened his two-day visit to Pakistan with talks with Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz at the Foreign Office. His visit is being viewed as preparatory to President Xi’s upcoming trip, which will be the first in nine years by a Chinese head of state and also the first by the incumbent.

The Chinese foreign minister is on a three-country visit that will also take him to the UAE and Iran.

Addressing a press conference along with Mr Aziz after their talks, Mr Wang said President Xi would “visit (Pakistan) this year at an early date”, but avoided sharing the exact date of the trip. He said he hoped the presidential visit would be “historic”.

It is speculated that the government wants the Chinese president to be chief guest at the Pakistan Day commemoration on March 23.

The Chinese president had earlier planned to visit Pakistan in August, but cancelled it because of the political situation at that time.

The Chinese foreign minister said he and Mr Aziz had agreed on everything discussed at the meeting. “We’ll enhance all-weather relationship and step up the cooperation,” he said, adding that China-Pakistan cooperation was a win-win situation.

Both aspects of cooperation – economic and security – would “advance together” to “deepen the converging interests”, he said.

Wang Yi says President Xi will soon visit Islamabad

He maintained that stepped up counter-terrorism cooperation was for ensuring common security. “We are also enhancing people-to-people contact and cultural exchanges to infuse fresh momentum in the relationship,” he added.

About the planned flagship economic corridor project, he said it would provide strategic framework for enhanced cooperation.

He did not specifically refer to the protests in Pakistan’s parliament over feared change in the alignment of the corridor, but still looked alluding to them as he sought to reassure that the project would benefit entire Pakistan.

Sharing the progress in the economic corridor project, he said the basic framework had been laid down after protracted discussions. “Early harvest projects are being identified to benefit the people of Pakistan. …We’d see results very soon,” he said, adding that the projects related to energy, power plants, railways and road links.

UNSC: Responding to a question about the United States’ support for India’s candidature for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, the Chinese minister called upon all stakeholders to reach a diplomatic consensus, which he called as a “package solution” for reforming the UN’s apex body.

“There is still no package solution acceptable to all sides and one that serves the interest of the entire national community,” he observed.

AFGHANISTAN: Mr Wang offered China’s help in the reconciliation process in Afghanistan that involved Taliban. “China can facilitate and play a constructive role” in reconciliation, he said.

China has mostly kept itself away from the conflict in Afghanistan, but has lately tried to play a bigger role there. The Chinese move is motivated by the desire to secure Chinese investments in Afghanistan’s mineral sector and fears of unrest in its restive Xingjian province.

At least two Taliban delegations have already visited Beijing, reportedly through Pakistan’s support.

Mr Wang praised Pakistan’s role vis-à-vis Afghanistan and said: “Pakistan has an irreplaceable role in resolving the Afghan issue. Pakistan has a strong will for playing a constructive role for its resolution,” he stressed.

According to AFP, the Chinese foreign minister said Afghanistan’s long-term stability depended on a “broad-based and inclusive national reconciliation” which needed international support.

He said that with Nato’s combat mission in Afghanistan having finished in December, it was time to end the country’s decades of turmoil and poverty.

“We will support the Afghan government in realising reconciliation with various political factions, including Taliban. The international community needs to give support and encouragement. China is ready to provide necessary facilitation any time if it is required by various parties in Afghanistan,” Mr Wang said.

SARTAJ AZIZ: Speaking about his talks with the Chinese foreign minister, Sartaj Aziz said: “We exchanged broad ideas to commence the substantive preparations for the visit. We agreed on the importance of operationalising energy and infrastructure and early harvest projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as early as possible.”

In reply to a question, he said the identified projects would be launched shortly and were expected to be completed by 2017-18.

“Both sides are fully committed to add greater depth to the all-weather, friendly and cooperative relations between our two countries. We also discussed the regional situation and the need for strategic balance in South Asia,” Mr Aziz said.

Published in Dawn February 13th , 2015



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