World / Asia-Pacific

Pakistan attaches highest importance to Xi visit

By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily) Updated: 2015-02-17 09:33

Pakistan attaches highest importance to Xi visit

Syed Tariq Fatemi, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

Trip likely to take place at early date, senior Islamabad envoy says

President Xi Jinping's expected visit to Pakistan this year will "mark a visible upgrading" of the bilateral relationship and add new substance to current strategic ties, a visiting senior Pakistani diplomat has told China Daily.

Syed Tariq Fatemi, Pakistan's Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said the visit is "likely to take place at an early date".

Pakistan "attaches the highest importance" to the visit and the two sides will spare no effort to make it "a historic occasion" that "leaves a deep imprint" on the relationship.

Fatemi, a veteran Pakistani diplomat, pointed out that if the visit goes ahead it will be the first by a Chinese head of state in nine years.

Then-president Hu Jintao visited Pakistan in 2006.

The diplomat anticipated that the Pakistan visit will be the first stop of Xi's foreign tour in 2015.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi traveled to Islamabad last week for talks, and told Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that a visit by Xi would "definitely inject remarkable momentum" into the relationship.

Fatemi said, "China is not only our time-tested friend, but also a very powerful factor in the maintenance of global financial, economic and political order."

Fatemi is leading an energy delegation from Pakistan in order to strengthen cooperation and alleviate an acute shortage of electricity in Pakistan.

The diplomat spoke highly of China's proposals to boost regional connectivity, including the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives proposed by Xi in 2013.

Such initiatives will spread Chinese investment, expertise and experience across the entire region, he said, adding, "It is an excellent idea and demonstrates once again to the world that China actually believes in sharing its prosperity with other countries".

China and Pakistan are celebrating 2015 as the Year of Friendly Exchanges, and Fatemi said the planned events will boost public awareness on both sides of the importance attached to the relationship by the two countries.

The events will engage not only government authorities, but also nongovernmental groups and individuals, he said.

There will be an increased number of exchange visits by TV and radio reporters as well as civic groups.

Meanwhile, security pressure is mounting on both China and Pakistan as the United States and NATO are withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

This has led to concern among observers about the uncertainties facing the region, including the threat of terrorism.

Last week, Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao co-chaired the first trilateral strategic talks involving China, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Fatemi said, "No single country can pursue its objectives of peace, stability and economic growth without creating a circle of friends around it."

The trilateral collaboration "will be successful in eliminating this scourge of terrorism", he added.

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