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Pakistan's PM to Discuss Economy, Kashmir With Chinese President

FILE - Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, back second from left, speaks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, back third from left, during a signing ceremony at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, April 28, 2019.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will begin an official visit Tuesday to China, where he will meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to discuss bilateral ties and the security situation arising from India’s recent actions in the disputed Kashmir region.

Khan’s office said Monday his two-day visit “will be instrumental in further cementing Pakistan’s economic, investment and strategic ties” between the neighboring countries.

Pakistan's tensions with India have heightened since India’s Hindu nationalist government abolished the semi-autonomous status for Kashmir in August and imposed a clampdown in the Muslim-majority region, which both countries claim in full.

“The prime minister will exchange views on regional developments including the state of peace and security in South Asia arising from the situation in occupied Jammu & Kashmir,” the statement said.

China has rejected Indian actions in Kashmir as “unacceptable” and cautioned against unilaterally altering the disputed status of the region. China also controls a thinly populated portion of the region and has a longstanding dispute over the border with India.

India maintains its moves in Kashmir are an internal matter and meant to bring development as well as economic prosperity to the region.

The visit will be Khan's third to China since taking office more than a year ago.

China’s ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, told VOA that President Xi and Prime Minister Khan have developed a “very good relationship” to further bilateral ties between their nations.

“They are in contact quite often. I think that this is a good development because the top leaders of the two countries have a hundred percent consensus on this relationship and cooperation,” Yao told VOA.

Officials said that a number of agreements will be signed during Khan's visit to further bilateral economic cooperation under the ongoing multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a pilot program of Beijing’s global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

China has invested about $20 billion in Pakistan to build road networks and power generation plants, effectively ending nationwide crippling electricity shortages.

The two sides are also expected to conclude talks on a multibillion-dollar ML-1 railway line China plans to fund and build under CPEC linking the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar to the southern port city of Karachi.

Both countries reject criticism that CPEC is a “debt trap” for Islamabad and has added to Pakistan's economic troubles, slowing down the mega program in recent months.

“I don’t think it is slowing down and I think that is running according to our satisfaction,” said Ambassador Yao.