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Pakistan

FM Qureshi to leave for China to 'further strengthen' partnership

  • Visit comes amid investigations by both countries into the Dasu incident that killed nine Chinese nationals and four Pakistanis
23 Jul 2021

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will visit China on Friday (today) on the invitation of the State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

In a statement, the Foreign Office (FO) said that the visit is part of the high-level exchanges between the two the neigbours. The FM will be accompanied by senior officials.

"The visit will play an important role in further strengthening Pakistan-China 'All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership' and will expand strategic communication and coordination with China on a range of issues," the statement, issued on Friday, said.

During the visit, both sides will discuss the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), defence and security cooperation, Covid-19 vaccines, counter-terrorism as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Bus accident near Dasu not a terror attack: Qureshi tells Chinese counterpart

"This year, Pakistan and China are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. More than 100 celebratory events have been planned of which over 60 events have already been held so far," FO press release added.

"These celebrations have immensely contributed to injecting a fresh vigour and warmth in the traditional friendship."

The statement added that both the countries are staunch partners and their time-tested relationship is based on unparalleled mutual trust, understanding and commonality of interests.

Investigation into Dasu incident has reached final stages, says Pakistan's interior minister

Both sides are fully committed to building closer China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future, FO said.

The FM's visit comes following the incident near the Dasu project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last week, in which nine Chinese nationals and four Pakistanis lost their lives. A bus carrying Pakistan and Chinese workers to the site of the Dasu project met with an accident with reports suggesting that a blast occurred, causing the vehicle to plunge into a ravine.

The Dasu hydroelectric project is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $65 billion investment plan under Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative that is aimed at connecting western China to the Gwadar seaport in southern Pakistan.

A high-level Chinese investigative team also arrived in Islamabad to take a briefing from Pakistani counterparts on the incident, which also resulted in the postponement of the 10th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) on CPEC.

The JCC meeting, which is normally held once a year, was scheduled to be held on July 16. However, CPEC Authority Chairman Lieutenant General (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa said that the meeting will now be held after Eid, and informed that a new date will be announced after it is finalised. Meanwhile, preparations for the meeting will continue.

Terrorism cannot be ruled out in Dasu incident: Fawad Chaudhry

Initially, the Foreign Office had stated that the bus carrying Chinese workers plunged into a ravine after a mechanical failure, resulting in leakage of gas that caused a blast. However, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry later said that initial investigations into the Dasu incident have now confirmed traces of “explosives”.

“Terrorism cannot be ruled out,” he added.

Chaudhry's statement came after Qureshi had told his Chinese counterpart that as per the preliminary investigation, the bus accident near Dasu hydropower project was not a terrorist attack.

Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan also had a telephonic conversation with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang in which, according to the PM House, the prime minister assured him that “no effort would be spared to fully investigate the incident”.

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