Islamabad/Beijing, May 20 (PTI) Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will visit China on May 21 at the special invitation of his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to review the entire gamut of bilateral relations, with a particular focus on stronger trade and economic cooperation between the two all-weather allies, the Foreign Office announced here on Friday.
Bilawal’s visit between May 21 and 22 will coincide with the 71st anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China, it said.
“This would be Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s first bilateral visit abroad since assuming office last month,” the Foreign Office said, adding that the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and senior officials will also be part of the minister’s delegation.
The foreign minister during his visit will hold extensive consultations with 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.
“Fast-tracked progress on the transformational China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, flagship project of President Xi Jinping’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative, will also feature in the discussions,” the FO said.
“The two sides will also have a wide-ranging exchange of views on major regional and international issues,” it said.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin noted that it will be Bilawal’s first official bilateral visit since he assumed the office of foreign minister.
“It will see his hope of taking China as the first destination of his overseas visits realised and also marks the first in-person high-level interaction between the two countries since the new Pakistani government was formed.
“As all-weather strategic cooperative partners, it is necessary for China and Pakistan to strengthen communication and coordination on major strategic issues and jointly respond to new developments in the international and regional situation and various risks and challenges,” Wang Wenbin said.
He said State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will hold talks with Bhutto to have comprehensive and in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and issues of common interest.
“China hopes to take this visit as an opportunity to renew our traditional friendship, consolidate strategic mutual trust, further deepen our all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and build a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era,” the spokesman said.
Wang Yi had earlier written a letter of congratulations to Bilawal on his assumption of the office of foreign minister. The two foreign ministers had previously held a virtual meeting on May 11.
The Pakistani minister’s visit is part of the high-level exchanges between the two sides, which included a message of felicitations to the Prime Minister from Premier Li Keqiang, and a telephone conversation between the two Premiers on May 16.
Bilawal’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, according to the FO.
Bilawal is currently visiting the US at the invitation of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to attend the ministerial meeting on the “Global Food Security Call to Action”.
On Wednesday, Bilawal met Blinken at the UN headquarters and talks focussed on bolstering regional security and strengthening bilateral and economic ties.