China to boost Pakistan defence ties, pats Islamabad on dispute with India

Beijing: China and Pakistan on Sunday agreed to further develop their military cooperation after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan ended his official talks with the Chinese leadership here.

In a joint statement released as Khan flew to Shanghai, China also came out in support of “Pakistan’s efforts for improvement of Pakistan-India relations and for settlement of outstanding disputes between the two countries”.

Islamabad and Beijing also “dismissed the growing negative propaganda” against the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which New Delhi opposes, “and expressed determination to safeguard the CPEC projects from all threats”.

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”.

Calling for a peaceful and stable South Asia, the statement underlined the importance of pursuit of dialogue and resolution of all outstanding disputes to promote regional cooperation.

“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,” it said.

China also backed Pakistan’s engagement with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), of which both Islamabad and New Delhi are not members, and said it welcomed Pakistan’s adherence of NSG guidelines.

The joint statement covered virtually every area of bilateral relationship including economy. China and Pakistan signed 15 agreements and MoUs on a range of issues during Khan’s visit.

“In political relations and strategic communication, both sides stressed they will continue to view China-Pakistan relations from a strategic and long-term perspective.

“The Chinese side reiterated that China’s relationship with Pakistan is always a matter of highest priority in its foreign policy.”