• Wednesday, April 24, 2024

ASIA

China backs Pakistan after Iran’s airstrikes

By: Pramod Thomas

CHINA has assured Islamabad of its support in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity even while welcoming on Tuesday (23) the restoration of diplomatic ties between Tehran and Islamabad after their recent air strikes against each other.

As China’s foreign minister Sun Weidong visited Pakistan on a mediation mission, a statement from the ministry on Monday (22) said it is maintaining close contacts with Pakistan and Iran to “bridge their differences.”

China on January 18 offered to play a “constructive role” to ease tension between Pakistan and Iran following their missile strikes against each other and asked the two countries to “exercise restraint and calmness and avoid escalation.”

Earlier, Pakistan conducted “precision military strikes” against what it called “terrorist hideouts” in Iran’s Siestan-Balochistan province that killed nine people.

The attack was seen as retaliation to Iranian missile and drone attacks on January 16 which targeted two bases of the Sunni Baloch militant group Jaish al-Adl in Pakistan’s unruly Balochistan province.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “China welcomes the good progress that Iran and Pakistan have made in repairing their ties and supports them in further enhancing mutual trust and deepening cooperation through friendly consultation.”

China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic co-operative partners, Sun was quoted as saying after his meeting with Pakistan president Arif Ali on Monday. Sun is a former ambassador to both Pakistan and India

China appreciates Pakistan’s firm adherence to the one-China principle and “supports Pakistan in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” as well as its unity, stability, development and prosperity, Sun told Alvi.

He also said, China is willing to work with Pakistan to follow through on the important common understandings reached between the leaders of the two countries, deepen political mutual trust, expand practical cooperation, upgrade the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and “accelerate the building of a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.”

Sun held talks with a host of Pakistan officials including the Army Chief General Syed Asim Munir during which too he assured China’s support to Pakistan in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He also took part in the key meeting of $60 billion CPEC over which India protested as it is being laid through the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, (POK).

Wang Wenbin reiterated its stand on mediation and said in response to a question: “We stand ready to work with Iran and Pakistan to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation and safeguard regional peace, stability and development.”

Iran and Pakistan have mutually agreed that the ambassadors of both the countries may return to their respective posts by January 26. Following the air strikes against each other, the two countries had expelled the others’ envoys.

Meanwhile, vice foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu in a phone call with Iranian deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani asked him to reduce tensions.

China is also concerned over Iran’s missile strikes in Balochistan where most of its investments are located especially, the Gwadar port, the starting point of the CPEC project that connects to China’s Xinjiang province.

(PTI)

 

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