FM heads to China today

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By Asghar Ali Mubarak

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will travel to China on a two-day official visit today (Saturday) at the invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the Foreign Office said Friday.
Bilawal’s trip from May 21-22 will be his first bilateral visit abroad since assuming office last month.
According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and senior officials will be part of the foreign minister’s delegation.
During the visit, Bilawal will hold extensive consultations with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. “The two leaders will review the entire gamut of bilateral relations, with a particular focus on stronger trade and economic cooperation between Pakistan and China,” the FO said.
Fast-tracked progress on the transformational China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the flagship project of President Xi Jinping’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative will also feature in the discussions. The two sides will also have a wide-ranging exchange of views on major regional and international issues. “Foreign Minister Bilawal’s visit will also

coincide with the 71st anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China,” the statement read.
State Councilor Wang Yi had written a letter of congratulations to Bilawal on his assumption of the office of FM. The two foreign ministers had previously held a virtual meeting on May 11.
The foreign minister’s visit is part of the high-level exchanges between the two sides, which recently also included a message of felicitations to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif from his counterpart Li Keqiang and a telephone conversation between the two premiers on May 16.
“The foreign minister’s visit will contribute towards further fortifying the time-tested All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership between Pakistan and China, enhance and deepen CPEC-related engagement, and help in identifying new avenues for bilateral cooperation to the benefit of the two countries and peoples,” the FO said.