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China softens K-stance ahead of Prez Xi’s visit

As Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Beijing for talks, China appeared to soften its stand on Kashmir and indicated the Xi-Modi summit in Mamallapuram will be held later this week.

Calling for the Kashmir issue to be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang omitted reference to “UN and UN Security Council resolutions”.

This terminology is resented by India, which believes the Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan has subsumed all other earlier initiatives, including UNSC resolutions.
China had irked India on the global stage by twice calling for the resolution of Kashmir as per the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreement. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made this formulation at a closed-door meeting of the UNSC on the Kashmir issue followed by the address to the UN General Assembly.

Chinese envoy to India Sun Weidong also suggested the scope and potential of Sino-Indian ties should not be circumscribed by differences on the border. “The boundary question is only part of China-India relations. We need to keep it in the larger picture of China-India relations and do not let the boundary dispute affect the normal development of bilateral relations,” Sun said in an interview.

Beijing, Geng called on India and Pakistan to “engage in dialogue and consultation on all issues including Kashmir issue and consolidate mutual trust. This is in line with interest of both countries and common aspiration of the world”.

“We have been advancing our cooperation and properly managing our differences. We have a tradition of high-level exchange and our two sides are maintaining communication on high level exchange in the next phase. We should make good atmosphere and environment for this,” he said.

As proof that both countries are walking in step, India and China will simultaneously announced Xi’s visit for the second informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow. Foreign ministries of both countries will also hold special briefings on the visit on Wednesday.

The Chinese envoy repeatedly drew the bigger picture to play down the differences that have cropped up over Kashmir. “At the regional level, we should resolve disputes peacefully through dialogues and consultations and jointly uphold regional peace and stability,” he said, while describing China-India ties as having crossed the bilateral dimension and having entered the global and strategic phase.

While China soft-pedalled its formulation on Kashmir, Khan arrived in Beijing today amid talk that Islamabad was unhappy that China had not stood up on Kashmir as it had expected. Significantly, Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa arrived ahead of Khan.

In Nepal, the media announced that Xi would visit Kathmandu on October 12. This would mean that after meeting Khan, Xi would be in India on October 10 and 11 and thereafter leave for Nepal.

China, Pak vow to strengthen cooperation

Beijing: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan here on Tuesday with both sides pledging to enhance cooperation between the two countries. “China is ready to work with Pakistan to continue to deepen strategic mutual trust, expand pragmatic cooperation, enhance people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and push bilateral relations and cooperation to a new height,” Li said.