China supports efforts to improve ties between New Delhi and Islamabad, President Xi Jinping told Prime Minister Imran Khan in Bishkek on Friday, also assuring him of China’s full cooperation in Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts.
Xi’s assurance to Khan comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told him during bilateral talks that Pakistan needs to create an atmosphere clear of terror.
Xi met Khan on the sidelines of the President Xi Jinping (SCO) summit in Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan.
“We support Pakistan in carrying out the national anti-terrorism action plan and will help Pakistan strengthen its counter-terrorism capacity building. China supports Pakistan and India to improve relations,” Xi was quoted as having told Khan in a statement issued by the Chinese foreign minister.
“The Prime Minister did inform President Xi Jinping that Pakistan needs to create an atmosphere free of terrorism and that at this stage, we did not see this as happening as yet, and that, therefore, we expect Pakistan to take concrete action on the issues that India has proposed in the areas of concern that we have flagged to Pakistan,” foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale told a news briefing after the meeting between Xi and Modi on Thursday.
On Friday, Modi again raised the issue of state-sponsored terrorism without naming Pakistan.
The Chinese foreign ministry statement – released late evening — on the meeting between Xi and Khan said the Chinese leader emphasised the close ties between the two all-weather strategic friends.
“Xi Jinping emphasized that we must maintain, consolidate and develop China-Pakistan all-weather relations and all-around cooperation. The two sides should thoroughly communicate on issues of common concern and jointly safeguard international and regional security and stability,” the statement quoted Xi as saying.
There was the obvious reference to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which New Delhi is opposed to as it violates India’s territorial sovereignty because of its path through PoK.
“We must expand and enrich the construction of the CPEC with a new focus on industrial parks, agriculture, and people’s livelihood,” Xi said.
“It is necessary to seize the opportunity of the escalation of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement and vigorously expand bilateral trade. China is willing to provide assistance to Pakistan within its ability,” the Chinese leader said.
Xi pointed out that he had met Khan thrice in eight months.
“This fully reflects the high level of China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership. Under the complicated international and regional situation, China and Pakistan should carry out closer coordination and cooperation to build a closer community of destiny.”
Khan told Xi that Pakistan highly values China’s positive role in promoting international and regional peace and security and is committed to continue deepening its strategic relationship with China
Modi did not meet Khan on the sidelines of the SCO summit. Reports from Bishkek said the two leaders didn’t even have an informal interaction during the summit.
Besides Xi, Modi met Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the SCO summit.