Wang, Qureshi discuss Kashmir, progress on CPEC projects during strategic dialogue
Beijing, Aug 21: The foreign ministers of China and Pakistan held their 2nd annual strategic dialogue on Friday during which they discussed ways to enhance their all-weather bilateral ties, the Kashmir issue, progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Afghan peace process.
Billed as "highly relevant" and "very important" by both the countries ahead of the meeting held in the southern Chinese island resort of Hainan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi discussed a host of bilateral, regional and international issues.
A joint statement issued at the end of the meeting said that "both sides underlined that a peaceful, stable, cooperative and prosperous South Asia was in common interest of all parties. Parties need to settle disputes and issues in the region through dialogue on the basis of equality and mutual respect".
"The Pakistani side briefed the Chinese side on the situation in Jammu & Kashmir, including its concerns, position and current urgent issues", it said.
"The Chinese side reiterated that the Kashmir issue is a dispute left over from history between India and Pakistan, which is an objective fact, and that the dispute should be resolved peacefully and properly through the UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation", the joint press release said.
India has been maintaining that China has no locus standi in commenting on Jammu and Kashmir.
New Delhi has previously told Beijing that the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir "has been, is and shall continue to be an integral part of India."
Earlier this month, the Ministry of External Affairs said that the issues pertaining to the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir were solely an internal matter of India.
"As on such previous occasions, this attempt too met with little support from the international community. We firmly reject China's interference in our internal affairs and urge it to draw proper conclusions from such infructuous attempts," the MEA said in a statement in New Delhi after China initiated a discussion in the UN Security Council on Jammu and Kashmir.
Ahead of the meeting between Wang and Qureshi, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian told the media here on Thursday that "this time the strategic dialogue is highly relevant and the two sides will take the opportunity to discuss anti-epidemic cooperation, bilateral ties and the regional and international issues of mutual interest".
Before leaving for Hainan, Qureshi told the media in Islamabad that "I am leaving on a very important visit to China. I had a discussion with the prime minister regarding this visit yesterday. My delegation will represent the stance of the political and military leadership of the country".
The meeting took place amid reports of crisis in Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations which were regarded as the bedrock of Islamabad's foreign policy for decades.
Qureshi left for Hainan after the return of Pakistan Army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa from Saudi Arabia, where he held talks with senior officials on the state of relations between Riyadh and Islamabad.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said in an interview on Wednesday that Pakistan's future was linked to China as Beijing defended Pakistan in all difficult times. He said Chinese President Xi Jinping would visit Pakistan in the winter.
Wang and Qureshi reiterated that the enduring China-Pakistan all-weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership is beneficial to international and regional peace and stability, and serves the mutual security and development interests of both countries as well as of international community and regional countries.
On Afghanistan, the joint statement said both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation on the Afghan issue and appreciated the efforts made by Afghan government and the Taliban to initiate the Intra-Afghan Negotiations.
"China appreciated Pakistan's positive contribution to the Afghan peace process and efforts for promoting peace and stability in the region and beyond", it said.
Both sides agreed on continuing their firm support on issues concerning each other''s core national interests.
"The Chinese side reiterated that Pakistan and China are iron brothers and Pakistan remains China's staunchest partner in the region and that China firmly supports Pakistan in safeguarding its territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence."
Beijing also said it supported Islamabad independently choosing a development path based on its national conditions, striving for a better external security environment and playing a more constructive role on international and regional affairs, the release said.
"The Pakistani side appreciated China for standing together with Pakistan in safeguarding its national security and sovereignty, and reaffirmed its firm support to China on affairs concerning China''s core interests and issues of major concern, such as those related to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong", it said.
On the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) both sides have underscored that it has entered the new phase of "high-quality development, and has played and will continue to play an important role in supporting Pakistan to overcome the impact of COVID-19 and achieve greater development".
The two sides will continue to firmly advance the construction of the CPEC, ensure in-time completion of those projects under construction, focus on economic and social development, job creation and improvement of people's livelihood, and further strengthen cooperation in Specialised Economic Zones, industrial relocation, science and technology, medical and health, human resources training, poverty alleviation, and agriculture etc, it said.
India has protested to China over the CPEC as it is being laid through Pakistan occupied Kashmir.