Prime Minister Imran Khan is meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing today to discuss the security situation in the disputed region of Kashmir as well as economic ties, his office said yesterday.
It would be Khan’s third visit to Beijing in less than a year.
Tensions over Kashmir have risen drastically since August when New Delhi revoked the autonomy of its portion of the territory, which both India and Pakistan rule in part and claim in full.
Pakistan expelled India’s ambassador and suspended bilateral trade soon after, and Khan launched an international diplomacy campaign in an attempt to draw global condemnation of India’s treatment of Kashmiris.
In a speech to the UN General Assembly in New York last month, Khan urged world powers to intervene to prevent a possible face-off between the two nuclear-armed rivals.
China, which also holds a thinly populated high-altitude area of Kashmir and has a longstanding dispute over the border with India, has called New Delhi’s actions “unacceptable”.
“The visit will be instrumental in further cementing Pakistan’s economic, investment and strategic ties with China,” said the statement from Khan’s office. “The prime minister will exchange views ... the state of peace and security in South Asia arising from the situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.”
India says that the status of Kashmir is a domestic issue and that Kashmir will economically benefit from its move.
Khan’s visit will also include talks on the progress of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the $60bn infrastructure programme that China launched as part of its flagship “Belt and Road” project.
Some officials and observers have said momentum on CPEC projects is slowing, in part due to concerns over the size of Pakistan’s debt and struggling economy, which led Islamabad to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $6bn bailout package in July.
In a news conference on Sunday, Pakistan’s Khusro Bakhtiar, the minister for planning, development and reforms, denied that there had been any slowdown in CPEC projects.
“(There’s) a narrative being built up that they have become slow; I reject it, it’s totally wrong,” he said.
Bakhtiar also said that the Beijing visit would include talks on the ML-1 railway, one CPEC project which has stalled due to questions over funding.
Prime Minister Khan’s visit comes before the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is due to decide whether Pakistan’s efforts to clamp down on terror financing are sufficient for it to avoid being placed on a ‘black list’ of nations that includes Iran and North Korea.
China is one of 39 FATF members.
The government did not say whether Khan’s trip would address the issue.
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