China asks India, Pak to hold talks

Beijing, Aug 9 As Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi arrived in Beijing to seek counsel on how to tackle India’s moves on Kashmir, China on Friday called on both the neighbours to hold dialogue to resolve bilateral disputes even as it stuck to its earlier position, asking India to stop “unilaterally changing the status quo” of Kashmir.

Qureshi, who was in Jeddah two days ago, on Friday arrived in Beijing to consult its all-weather friend on ways to counter what it terms as India’s “illegal” move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. He met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, and the two are to discuss the aftermath of India’s decision to revoke Article 370 that gave Jammu and Kashmir special status and the hiving of the state into two Union territories.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a written response: “We call on Pakistan and India to resolve disputes through dialogue and negotiation and jointly uphold regional peace and stability.”

“The pressing priority is that the relevant party should stop unilaterally changing the status quo and avoid escalation of tension,” China said, without naming India, but restating what it had said earlier this week on India’s Kashmir move.

Lijian Zhao, a senior Chinese diplomat in Pakistan, wrote on Twitter that Qureshi would meet State Counsellor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi and other Chinese leaders.

“The visit was arranged in a very short time. That’s why we are called iron brothers,” he wrote.

Pakistan, which has termed India’s action on Kashmir as “unilateral and illegal”, has expelled the Indian envoy in Islamabad, suspended bilateral trade, and stopped two cross-border train services.

On Tuesday, China termed as “unacceptable” India’s decision to bifurcate J&K into two union territories, including the creation of a separate UT of Ladakh. China claimed that the creation of a separate UT of Ladakh undermined its territorial sovereignty.

Qureshi’s visit comes ahead of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s three-day trip to Beijing from August 11 – that is seen as a preparatory trip for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s India visit in October for a second informal bilateral with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Both Jaishankar and Wang would hold the 2nd India-China People-to-People exchange mechanism and address the 4th India-China Media Summit Forum on August 12.

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