China pats Pakistan for 'efforts' to have peace talks with India

SHANGHAI, Nov. 4, 2018 (Xinhua) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 4, 2018, to attend the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) which runs from Nov. 5 to 10. (Xinhua/Xing Guangli/IANS)

Beijing (IANS): China on Sunday patted Pakistan for its "efforts" to have peace talks with India to resolve the "outstanding" Kashmir dispute.

During the ongoing China visit by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Beijing and Islamabad issued a joint statement which had some references to India and the issues where it is involved.

"China appreciates Pakistan's quest for peace through dialogue, cooperation and negotiation, on the basis of mutual respect and equality, and supports Pakistan's efforts for improvement of Pakistan-India relations and for settlement of outstanding disputes between the two countries," the statement said.

After taking to power in August, Khan had sought to resume dialogue with India after almost two years of chill in bilateral ties following a deadly attack by Pakistani terrorists at an Indian army base in 2016.

India agreed for a meeting between its External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in September, only to cancel it after another attack by Pakistani terrorists.

China says it has a neutral stance on the Kashmir dispute between Indian and Pakistan, but its officials have hinted that Beijing can try to broker peace between them, an idea junked by New Delhi.

The artery of Beijing's Belt and Road project, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is planned through a part of Kashmir held by Pakistan and claimed by India.

The statement also said that "negative propaganda" was being spread about the CPEC, in a clear reference to India which opposes the project.

"Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to CPEC and agreed that it was a win-win enterprise for the entire region and would bring regional prosperity and development through enhanced connectivity."

The officials in Imran Khan government had expressed concern over Chinese investments under the CPEC, fearing that country might not be able to repay its Chinese debts.

There was no reference to the highly-anticipated Chinese financial aid to Pakistan, the main reason for Khan's visit.

The "all-weather allies" as they call themselves said the UN sanction regimes should not be politicized.

"Both sides underscored the need for all states to avoid politicization of the UN sanctions regime and the work of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)."

China, a member of the 1267 UN committee, has blocked India's application to ban Pakistani terrorist Masood Azhar.

Pakistan in June was formally added to the FATF'S 'grey list' of countries which fund terrorists.

In the statement, Beijing again backed Pakistan entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) where it has repeatedly refused India's admission.

"China supports Pakistan's engagement with the NSG and welcomes its adherence of NSG Guidelines."

China says India is a non-signatory to nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty and cannot be let in. It says if India can be given exception, why not Pakistan.

The statement talked about Islamabad's support to China in fighting separatists in restive Xingjiang province.

To Beijing's surprise, Islamabad had expressed concerns over the treatment of Uighurs Muslims in Xinjiang by Chinese authorities, who they suspect of being separatist and sympathizers of EITM.

Islamabad also backed Beijing's entry into the eight-member South Asia Association of Regional Cooperation.

On defence, security and counter-terrorism cooperation, both sides agreed to further enhance defence cooperation and maintain high-level visits and exchanges at various levels between the two armed forces.

The statement said the two countries had decided to "make full use of the China-Pakistan Defence and Security Consultation mechanism, deepen cooperation in areas such as military exercises, training cooperation, personnel exchanges, and equipment and technology cooperation".

(Story by Gaurav Sharma)

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