BEIJING: Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, who arrived in China on a two-day visit on Tuesday, met his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang in Beijing. After his arrival in the Chinese capital, Khan was accorded the ceremonial welcome and welcomed by top Chinese leaders including Li.
The two leaders later held bilateral talks and witnessed the signing of agreements on China's aid to Pakistan and cooperation in maritime law enforcement, culture and infrastructure, in the framework of China's Belt-and-Road initiative.
It is Imran Khan's third visit to China since he became prime minister and the visit comes amid ongoing tensions with India after New Delhi ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August.
After the meeting, China issued a statement urging both Pakistan and India to resolve all bilateral issues through dialogue, including Kashmir.
"China calls on India and Pakistan to strengthen dialogue on disputes including Kashmir to enhance mutual trust and improve relations. This is in line with the common interests of both India and Pakistan and is the common expectation of the countries and the international community," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said.
Beijing's apparent softening of stance on Kashmir comes ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to India for an informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chennai.
During the talks, both sides pledged to enhance cooperation between the two countries. Khan is here to attend the closing ceremony of the International Horticultural Exhibition 2019 Beijing and pay a working visit.
Li first expressed his sincere condolences to Pakistan`s government and people on their losses from the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that hit the South Asian country recently.
Noting that China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners, Li said the friendly relations between the two countries, which have no strings attached and are not targeted at any third party, enjoy a profound, solid foundation and win the heartfelt support of the two peoples, Xinhua news agency reported.
Li said China attaches great importance to the Pakistan Prime Minister's visit, and China-Pakistan ties have always been a priority for China`s neighbourhood diplomacy.
Li said China supports Pakistan in safeguarding its independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and legitimate rights and interests, in promoting its national prosperity, and in playing a greater role in international and regional affairs.
"China is ready to work with Pakistan to continue to deepen strategic mutual trust, expand pragmatic cooperation, enhance people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and push bilateral relations and cooperation to a new height," he said.
He said China is ready to work with Pakistan to seek greater synergy between their development strategies, continue to promote the high-quality development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), strengthen cooperation in infrastructure, economy, trade, finance and industrial capacity, take strong measures to facilitate a more balanced development of bilateral trade, expand the export of competitive Pakistani products to China, and protect the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel in Pakistan, in a bid to promote mutually beneficial results and common development.
On his part, Khan extended congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People`s Republic of China.
He said that thanks to China`s assistance and support, Pakistan`s economy has stabilized and gradually recovered. He said Pakistan stands ready to work with China to accelerate the joint construction of the Belt and Road and attaches great importance to the construction of the CPEC and Gwadar port.
Pakistan is willing to work with China to expand trade and investment, and promote cooperation in energy, hydroelectricity, nuclear electricity, railway and agriculture, he added.
After the talks, the two Prime Ministers attended a signing ceremony for a series of bilateral cooperation agreements including infrastructure construction, law enforcement and security, culture, education and media.
Prior to the talks, Li held a welcome ceremony for his Pakistani counterpart outside the Great Hall of the People.
(With Reuters inputs)