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March 24, 2019

Defeating terror needs regional cooperation: Qureshi

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March 24, 2019

BEIJING: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi says instead of unwarranted criticism and rhetoric, the regional countries should develop cooperative approaches to counter terrorism, as it is a global problem requiring concerted global efforts to get defeated.

Talking to the Global Times during his recent visit to Beijing to co-chair the China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue, he said only through dialogue and constructive engagement could we defeat this scourge throughout South Asia.

"Pakistan is engaged bilaterally as well as multilaterally in developing such approaches", he added.

Responding to a question about the agenda of China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, Qureshi said he co-chaired with State Councilor Wang Yi the inaugural meeting of Strategic Dialogue following a decision of the political leadership of both countries in November 2018 to elevate the dialogue to foreign ministers level.

"I held in-depth discussions with the State Councilor on the whole spectrum of our bilateral relations including high level exchanges, future development and direction of CPEC, cooperation in the fields of trade, defence and security, enhancing people-to-people exchanges and regional and international issues of mutual interest," he added.

Qureshi said this platform would serve as an opportunity to further consolidate our time-tested all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and reiterate our commitment to building closer China-Pakistan community of shared future in the new era. Commenting on significance of the strategic dialogue, he said recent developments in South Asia were well-known to the world.

"The world is also aware how the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has acted to deescalate the situation. Pakistan has convincingly manifested its quest for peace in the region by offering dialogue to India and investigation into Pulwama incident if credible evidence is made available,” he said.

Afghanistan, he said was another area where Pakistan and China held common views. He said both countries were committed to peace and development in Afghanistan and in Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process.

"The Strategic Dialogue with China not only reinforces our close friendly ties, but also allows both sides to evaluate the regional situation and the steps which can be taken to improve it," he added.

Introducing the new development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said the philosophy of PTI government was people-oriented and people-centric.

"As reflected in the Pak-China joint statement issued in November 2018, both the countries agreed to focus on socio-economic development, job creation, improving people’s livelihood, poverty alleviation, industrialisation, and development of industrial parks and agriculture – which is Phase-II of CPEC with the premise to build on the achievements of Phase-I," he added.

About Prime Minister Imran Khan’s forthcoming visit to China to attend the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, he said at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, PM Khan would attend the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April 2019.

"PM Imran Khan is expected to hold meetings with the Chinese leadership on the sidelines of the Forum. More details will be released in due course," he added. To a question about Saudi Arabia's pledge of $20 investment in Pakistan, he said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were brotherly countries and old friends. "Prime Minister Imran Khan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman have carved a new vision for future development of bilateral relations.

"Saudi Arabia’s Vision for 2030" to become an investment powerhouse and global hub connecting three continents, Asia, Europe and Africa fits neatly with Pakistan’s own vision of a regional trading hub and connectivity corridor," he added.

Qureshi said President Xi Jinxing’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative had drawn attention of the world and countries along the Belt and Road were seeking means of collaborative and integrated economic development. He said CPEC was the flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative and added, "It is primarily a bilateral project between Pakistan and China. CPEC will bring economic dividends to the region". "We are open to project-based participation of third countries, including Saudi Arabia, in the development of CPEC," he added.

Regarding Pakistan’s relations with India after Pulwama attack, he said China was a voice of reason and wisdom in our region. "We welcome the Chinese efforts and their good offices to stabilise the situation in our region," he added.

He said since the assumption of office in August 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan had made several peace overtures to India, including the Kartarpur Corridor and release of Indian pilot.

"We hope that his calls for peace and dialogue will be reciprocated and both sides will be able to settle all outstanding issues through dialogue and peaceful means," he added.

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