ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Office said on Monday Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi would hold strategic talks during his three-day visit to China and discuss enhancing projects under the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) of infrastructure and energy projects.
Though China is Pakistan’s closest ally, the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has sought to re-configure the two countries’ signature CPEC deal to put greater emphasis on social development rather than purely on energy and infrastructure projects.
Qureshi arrived in Beijing on Monday for the first Pakistan-China foreign ministers’ strategic dialogue amid persisting tensions with Pakistan’s nuclear-armed neighbor India.
“China is our all-weather friend and we want to continue the process of strategic dialogue to further strengthen our bilateral relationship,” Dr. Mohammad Faisal, the spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Office (FO), told Arab News on Monday. “Regional situation and cooperation at multilateral forums will also come under discussion, besides reinforcing efforts to deepen economic engagement under the CPEC.”
Faisal denied that Qureshi would seek economic assistance from China during the visit.
“(The subject of) economic assistance doesn’t come under the purview of strategic dialogue. Nothing like cash assistance is going to be discussed,” the spokesman said.
Last year, Pakistan received $6 billion and $3 billion loan packages from Saudi Arabia and the UAE respectively, to help cash-starved Pakistan bridge a yawning current account deficit and shore up foreign reserves. Pakistan and UAE were in talks for an additional $3 billion oil supply on deferred payments but reports now suggest the Emirates has declined to extend the facility.
Qureshi is scheduled to call on the Chinese leadership during his visit and address the Political Parties Forum on the CPEC, according to a statement issued by the FO on Monday.
He will also participate in the ruling parties’ dialogue between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Communist Party of China (CPC), the statement read.
On Monday, Qureshi spoke at the China Institute for International Strategic Studies (CIISS) in Beijing where he reiterated that Pakistan and China are not only strong friends, but their relations are based on strategic partnership.