BEIJING: Pakistan and China on Wednesday agreed to advance their joint project – China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and endorsed finalizing the modalities for third-party participation. Pakistan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a joint press stakeout expressed satisfaction over the steady pace of CPEC and vowed to “further upgrade and expand this cooperation”. The two sides, after co-chairing the fifth Pakistan-China Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue held here at Diaoyutai State Guest House, spoke about their in-depth discussion on the multiple facets of their bilateral relations including CPEC and cooperation on counter-terrorism. Terming the Sino-Pak ties as “all-weather strategic partnership”, Dar and Wang expressed commitment to continue extending support to each other on issues of core interest. Ishaq Dar said the country looked forward to further enhancing China’s “development footprint”as in last 10 years, the CPEC transformed Pakistan’s economic landscape by eliminating power outages and by developing a robust infrastructure network. The two sides, he said, would pace up the implementation of Main Line-1 railway line project, Gwadar Port development, realignment of Phase 2 of the Karakorum Highway, and boost cooperation in agriculture, mining, minerals, energy, information technology, and industry sectors. “As we embark on second phase of CPEC, we look forward to developing corridors of growth, livelihood, innovation, green development, and inclusivity,” he added. Dar said the two sides were unanimous of the view that Karakorum Highway was the “linchpin of the China Pakistan geographical connectivity and an important artery of CPEC”. It has been agreed to implement the previous understanding to commence all-weather operations of Khunjerab-Sust border crossing soon, he added. He lauded China’s steadfast support to Pakistan’s sovereignty, integrity, and right to development, particularly “China’s principled stance on the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir.” He briefed the Chinese foreign minister on the threats to regional peace and security that continue to emanate from India’s illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, its unilateral actions and hostile posture. The deputy prime minister said that as a strategic partner and trusted friend, Pakistan would continue to support China on all its core issues. He highlighted Pakistan’s vision to attract foreign investment in diverse sectors under Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) and commended China’s readiness to deepen financial, bilateral trade and investment ties. He emphasized the extensive and elaborate measures the government had taken to protect Chinese interests in Pakistan. Chinese FM Wang Yi said the “comprehensive and in-depth strategic communication” with the Pakistani side focused on China-Pakistan relations, cooperation in various fields, and international and regional issues of common concern. He said the two sides agreed to strengthen the docking of development strategies and build an “upgraded version of CPEC” in a bid to help Pakistan better realize economic development, including scientific and technological innovation and green development. “At the same time, we will actively and steadily promote third-party cooperation in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” he said. Wang Yi emphasized cooperation in industry, agriculture, mining, new energy and information technology according to local conditions to help Pakistan realize sustainable development, and establish major connectivity projects. He said China appreciated that Pakistani side firmly adhered to the one-China principle and supported China on issues related to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. “China will, as always, firmly support the Pakistani side in safeguarding the country’s sovereignty, independence, peace and development and support it in taking the path consistent with its national conditions,” he added. The Chinese foreign minister said that China would support the Pakistani side in firmly combating terrorism and playing a greater role in international and regional affairs. “We will give full play to the role of various consultation and cooperation mechanisms in the political and security fields, and give unwavering support to each other on issues of mutual core interests and major concerns,” he said. He said China and Pakistan would further deepen counter-terrorism security cooperation. The two sides agreed cooperation on maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world at large.



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