Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday said he is watching the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and will support Pakistan in issues related to its core interests, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Xi told Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan during a meeting in Beijing that the right and wrong of the situation was clear, the report said. Xi added the parties should resolve the dispute via peaceful dialogue.
Xi also assured Khan that the friendship between China and Pakistan is "unbreakable and rock-solid" despite changes in the international and regional situation.
Xi made the remarks when he met Khan at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse here, two days before he leaves for India to hold the second informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chennai.
Xi said China is ready to work with Pakistan to forge a closer China-Pakistan community of shared future in the new era. Noting that the two countries are all-weather strategic cooperative partners, Xi said, "No matter how the international and regional situation changes, the friendship between China and Pakistan has always been unbreakable and rock-solid, and China-Pakistan cooperation has always maintained strong vitality."
Khan's visit to China, third since he took over as Prime Minister in August last year, acquires significance as it comes ahead of Xi's high-profile visit to India for the second informal summit with Modi at Mamallapuram near Chennai on October 11-12.
India and Pakistan have been locked in a war of words since the Modi government scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and divided it into two Union Territories — J&K and Ladakh.
In protest, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria and also suspended trade ties. It also sought to internationalise the issue by raising it at the United Nations but did not get much support.
Beijing, the all-weather ally of Islamabad, has backed Pakistan over the Kashmir issue, with its Foreign Minister Wang Yi in his address to the UN General Assembly saying, "No actions that would unilaterally change the status quo should be taken."
However, ahead of the Modi-Xi meet, China changed its tune and said India and Pakistan should resolve the issue bilaterally.
On Wednesday, Indian government sources said Kashmir was not on the table when Modi and Xi meet but if the Chinese President wanted clarity on the issue, it could be discussed.
Talking about the creation of Ladakh asa UT, they said, "The logic behind the move has been explained by the government. It was a demand from local public. We claim a certain boundary that is our perception. China has its own perception with respect to LAC. Neither's perception has changed despite formation of UT that will be effective from October 31."
During his meeting with Khan, Xi said China sincerely hopes to help Pakistan develop faster and better.
China and Pakistan have a fine tradition of mutual support and assistance, Xi said, according to Xinhua.
Noting that Pakistan used to provide "selfless help" to China when China was in difficulties, Xi said now that China has developed, it sincerely hopes to help Pakistan develop faster and better.
In Islamabad, the PM Office in a press release said Khan thanked Xi and the Chinese government for its "principled stance" on the Kashmir issue. The premier said China had supported Pakistan in all difficult times.
According to the press release, Khan briefed Xi about the current situation in the country, sharing that Pakistan had come out of a difficult economic situation.
"We will never forget China's financial cooperation in this regard," he was quoted as saying, adding that China had helped Pakistan without "any conditionality".
Khan said that China provided Pakistan with the opportunity to come out of a very difficult economic situation and appreciated the Chinese support under the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework.
It said President Xi lauded Khan for speaking about Pakistan-China relations during the UNGA, and said that both countries enjoy close friendly relations and cooperated with each other in different fields.
Khan, who is on a two-day visit to China, met his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang on Tuesday. Khan was accompanied by Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa during his meeting with Li.
(With inputs from Reuters)