ISLAMABAD: Top Chinese and Afghan diplomats touched down in Islamabad on Friday to participate in bilateral and trilateral meetings on a range of issues, including security and the economy.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari confirmed in a tweet that he would meet his Afghan and Chinese counterparts on Saturday (today).
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who is on a two-day visit, also called on President Arif Alvi on Friday with a delegation. Both sides reaffirmed the resolve to work together to promote regional peace and prosperity as well as jointly cope with external challenges.
According to a statement issued by the Presidency, both sides stressed the need to deepen bilateral cooperation in trade, economy, culture and defence.
President Alvi meets Beijing diplomat, vows to work together on regional peace
They also called for “increasing bilateral exchanges, people-to-people contacts, and cooperation in the fields of culture and tourism to further cement bilateral ties”, it said.
The meeting was also attended by the state minister for foreign affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar, Chinese vice minister of foreign affairs, Sun Weidong, and senior government officials of both countries.
Welcoming Mr Qin, President Alvi said Pakistan-China relations were rooted in mutual trust, understanding, and goodwill and both sides firmly supported each other on core issues.
He highlighted that Pakistan-China mutual cooperation was assuming an even greater significance in the light of new developments in the regional and international arenas.
Pakistan was committed to the completion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Gwadar port, which would play a significant role in promoting bilateral and regional trade and improving connectivity, he said.
Mr Alvi said Pakistan would take effective measures to ensure the security of the Chinese workers at various CPEC projects. He expressed optimism that the recent opening of Khunjerab Pass would facilitate the movement of goods from Xinjiang to Gwadar and vice versa.
He also emphasised the need to increase economic and commercial cooperation, particularly in the IT and agriculture sectors, adding that Chinese investors should benefit from Pakistan’s business and investment-friendly policies.
However, he expressed concern over the planned holding of G-20 Summit events by India in occupied Kashmir and described it as an Indian attempt to divert the world’s attention away from the ground realities and its atrocities against the people of Kashmir.
He said that Pakistan supported China on all its core issues, including the “One-China policy”, Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and the South China Sea. He also appreciated the support provided by China during last year’s unprecedented floods in Pakistan and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin said that China and Pakistan were all-weather friends and the friendship between the two countries was “as solid as a rock”. He stated that in view of the fast-changing world, Pakistan and China needed to further fortify and strengthen bilateral cooperation to meet the emerging regional and international challenges. He called for advancing cooperation in all areas of mutual interest, especially on projects of strategic importance.
Mr Qin said China was cognisant of Pakistan’s economic difficulties, saying that it was the priority of his country to help Pakistan. He said that China would welcome Pakistani students to study in Chinese educational institutions.
He also thanked President Alvi for visiting China in March 2020 to show solidarity with the people and government of China during the Covid pandemic.
Meanwhile, Acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi has also arrived on a four-day visit with a high-level delegation, including the acting minister for commerce and industry, Haji Nooruddin Azizi, and senior officials from the foreign, transport and trade ministries.
Apart from participating in the fifth China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue, he will also participate in some bilateral meetings.
Mr Muttaqi’s visit is a continuation of Pakistan’s political engagement with Afghanistan, which, among other things, included Ms Khar’s visit to Kabul in November and a visit of a high-level delegation led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif in February.
Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2023