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

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Mr Khan blended rhetoric with reality in his interaction with President Xi ~ "Countries go in cycles".

"We want to take benefit from China's experiences and aim to strengthen our institutions to subsequently control corruption", he said.

China Thursday sought to defend the proposed bus service with Pakistan through PaK, saying its cooperation with Islamabad has nothing to do with the territorial dispute and will not change its principled stance on the Kashmir issue. Neither man mentioned any economic aid in comments made in front of reporters. Pakistan has reasons to be disappointed unless China announced a financial package before Khan left for home on Monday.

Islamabad and Beijing also "dismissed the growing negative propaganda" against the so-called China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which India opposes, "and expressed determination to safeguard the CPEC projects from all threats".

Pakistan and China acknowledged the need to conclude the second phase of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement as early as possible and further enhance defense cooperation, maintain high-level visits and exchanges between relevant departments of the two countries' armed forces, while making full use of the China-Pakistan Defense and Security Consultation mechanism to deepen cooperation in military exercises and technology.

Pakistan has said the project isn't a major contributor to Pakistan's debt or a cause of the "financial difficulties it faces now faces", Lu said, adding that discussions will focus on "how to better drive forward with the building of the project".

"CPEC is a blessing for Pakistan, it's very important for the country, it's an opportunity to attract investments", he said.

This was Khan's first bilateral visit to China after assuming office as Prime Minister.

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The issue did not come up in opening remarks between Li and Khan.

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

India has right from the start protested against China's CPEC push as the corridor passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Highlighting the huge market potential and geostrategic advantage of Pakistan, the prime minister encouraged the business leaders to explore investment opportunities in the diverse socioeconomic sectors.

Mr Khan's trip to China comes amid unrest at home over the acquittal of a Pakistani Christian woman on death row for blasphemy.

Khan thanked the Chinese president, government and the people of China for their warm sentiments.

Imran Khan said friendship with China was the cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy and expressed the earnest desire of his government to further consolidate this relationship. Guard of honor was presented to the prime minister. The trip "is significant for President Xi Jinping, whose flagship BRI has had hiccups in recent months".

Pakistan and China signed 15 agreements that includes poverty alleviation in Pakistan, strengthening industrial, and agricultural ties and technical training. Implicit in that expression in a rare moment of candour was the new Prime Minister's admission that Pakistan is facing a "very difficult" economic situation, indeed a depleted inheritance.

"We will also bring people out of poverty in Pakistan".

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