China an ‘iron brother’ of Pakistan: Imran Khan
Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday called China an “iron brother” of Pakistan and said his visit to Beijing for the 2nd Belt and Road Forum (BRF) will take bilateral strategic ties to new heights.
In his departure statement before embarking on a four-day visit to China to attend the BRF which began on Thursday, Khan said he was looking forward to meet his “good friends” President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang for an in-depth exchange of views on all issues of mutual interest.
“I begin my visit to China today with the resolve to take our all weather strategic cooperative partnership to newer heights, Khan said.
He described China as Pakistan’s “closest friend” and “iron brother”.
Khan said it was a matter of great satisfaction that Pakistan-China bilateral ties were not only based on convergence of interests but rooted in common experiences of past and high-level of mutual trust and understanding.
He said that Pakistan-China friendship is “ingrained in the hearts and minds of the two people” and it would remain unaffected by any regional and international developments.
“I want to thank China for its strong and unequivocal support to Pakistan’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will continue to standby China on all issues of its core interest,” Khan said.
He “endorsed China’s vision of a peaceful world based on win-win cooperation and community of shared destiny and a new model of development envisioned in President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative.”
He said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and it will remain the top priority of his government.
In phase II of CPEC we are jointly focusing on socio-economic development; job creation; livelihood projects and accelerating cooperation in agriculture and industrial cooperation including Special Economic Zones, he said.
Khan said he was strongly committed to further strengthening Pakistan-China relationship and hoped that his will be instrumental in further expanding the scope and depth of bilateral ties.
This is Khan’s second visit to China since taking office in August last year. He will attend the BRI Forum and hold talks with Chinese leaders.
Ahead of Prime Minister Khan’s visit, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi arrived in China on Wednesday and held talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and discussed bilateral ties.
China is holding the BRF to showcase its trillion-dollar BRI without India’s presence for the second consecutive time, while 37 heads of the state and government, including from Pakistan are attending the three-day grand event.
The BRI was launched by Chinese 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.
The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan with China’s Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of Xi’s ambitious BRI.
India has been boycotting the BRI to protest over the USD 60 billion CPEC being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. (PTI)