BY GAURAV SHARMA
Beijing–Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday appealed to Pakistan and India to mend their ties, ruptured after the deadly terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama by a Pakistan-based terror outfit early this year.
Meeting visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and exchanging views on the situation in South Asia, Xi expressed the hope that Pakistan and India can meet each other halfway and promote stabilization and improvement in their relations, according to a Chinese government official.
Imran Khan also attended the three-day Belt and Road forum that concluded on Saturday, while India gave the summit a miss for the second time in protest against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor planned through the part of Kashmir held by Islamabad.
The meet between Xi and Khan comes at a time when the already-strained India and Pakistan’s ties have fallen to a new low after Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) carried out a deadly suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 40 Indian security personnel in February.
The issue has also caused tension between India and China as Beijing has blocked resolutions to designate JeM chief Masood Azhar a ‘global terrorist’ at the UN.
China has put a “technical hold” on resolutions each time they have been moved by India, the US and other countries at the UN 1267 committee. However, officials in Beijing say the solution to the issue is in sight.
At his meeting with Imran Khan, Xi also said China will stand by Pakistan in all times.
“Pakistan is China’s all-weather strategic cooperative partner. China and Pakistan are ‘iron friends’ and have always firmly supported each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests,” he said.
China takes Pakistan as a priority in its diplomacy, he said.
“No matter how international and regional situations change, China firmly supports Pakistan in safeguarding its sovereignty and national dignity, choosing its own development path suited to its national conditions, combating terrorist and extremist forces, striving for a sound external security environment, and playing a constructive role in international and regional affairs,” Xi said.
He said major progress had been made in bilateral cooperation in the construction of the CPEC, especially in areas such as finance, trade and other aspects, a statement said.