FM Bilawal lands in Guangzhou on maiden official visit

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari late Saturday landed in China on his maiden visit to the country in his capacity as foreign minister, with an aim to strengthen bilateral and economic ties.

The foreign minister’s trip two-day trip — May 21-22 — is his first bilateral visit abroad since assuming office last month. Bilawal is in China at the invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the Foreign Office had said in a statement.

“Landed in Guangzhou on my first bilateral visit. Today also marks 71st anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between Pakistan and China,” the foreign minister said in a tweet.

Bilawal said he was looking forward to meeting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi for in-depth discussions on Pakistan-China relations.

A Foreign Office statement issued before the foreign minister’s visit said Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and senior officials are part of the delegation.

During the visit, Bilawal will hold extensive consultations with Yi, the statement said.

“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 Foreign Office 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 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.

Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]

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