Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi and his Pakistan counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi would hold the strategic dialogue on August 20-21, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian announced at a media briefing here. A host of issues including the progress of the USD 60 billion CPEC and Islamabad's request for USD one billion loan were expected to figure in the talks, according to reports in the Pakistani media.
The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Balochistan with China's Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI is a multi-billion-dollar initiative launched by President Xi when he came to power in 2013. It aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.
Wang and Qureshi were also expected to finalise plans for President Xi's visit to Pakistan later this year, the reports said. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that President Xi would visit Pakistan in the winter.
This dialogue mechanism is a platform to coordinate exchanges in various fields, policy suggestions on the bilateral ties and enhance coordination and communication on international and regional issues between the two all-weather allies, Zhao said. The first dialogue which was held in Beijing last year in March has achieved consensus on many issues and played an important role in the development of bilateral relations, he said.
"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," he said. "Considering the current fluid international situation as well as the profound impact brought about by COVID-19, China and Pakistan as comprehensive and all-weather strategic partners should enhance cooperation to meet these challenges and to deliver greater benefits to two people", he said
"We believe this dialogue will help to enhance our strategic mutual trust, deepen our practical cooperation and strengthen our close coordination on international and regional affairs," he said. In a video message ahead of his departure to China, Qureshi said he was going on a "very important trip to China".
"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. I am hopeful that my meeting with Foreign Minister Wang will prove to be beneficial for both countries," he said. In a statement issued in Islamabad, the Pakistan Foreign Office on Thursday said that during the dialogue both sides will discuss cooperation on COVID-19, bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest.
The visit will play an important role in further strengthening Pakistan-China "All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership" and deepen strategic communication and coordination with China on a range of issues, it said. "Pakistan and China are the closest friends and staunch partners. Their time-tested friendship is based on unparalleled mutual trust, understanding, and commonality of interests," it added.