Chinese president's visit on schedule: FO

Tasnim says journalists need to avoid reports based on rumours

ISLAMABAD – Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Pakistan was on schedule and dates of the visit were under discussion, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said in her weekly briefing here on Thursday.

“China is Pakistan's best friend and this visit would further cement this relationship between the two countries”, she said. Earlier, a high-level Chinese delegation comprising security and protocol of President Jinping had arrived in the capital to finalise the dates of his visit. According to reports, the Chinese delegation had agreed that the Chinese president's two-day visit would be from 14th to 16th September.

The spokesperson said that a number of agreements and memorandum of understanding MoUs were expected to be signed between the two countries during the visit. To a question regarding terrorism, she said that armed forces had been taking a decisive action against militants across the board with no exceptions. Regarding Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, she said that both the countries had been continuing discussions to work out different modalities as various proposals regarding the project are under consideration.

Rejecting reports of closure of foreign missions in Islamabad, she said that journalists need to avoid reports based on rumours. Tasnim Aslam said that no new dates had been finalised for Pakistan-India foreign secretary level talks. She said as of now no meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of UN General Assembly was being worked out.

She said that visit of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Islamabad was postponed on our advice due to ongoing political stand-off. Regarding US sanctions on Iran, she said that Pakistan had a clear stance that sanctions did not resolve issues. We hope that path of dialogue will be preferred to resolve disputes between Iran and the West.

About evacuation of stranded Pakistanis in Libya, she said another special chartered flight arrived in Lahore this afternoon with 260 Pakistanis on board. Tasnim Aslam said that thousands of Pakistanis were still in Libya with around 3000 accommodated in the relief camps set up by Pakistan Embassy. It will be ensured that all Pakistani nationals wishing to be evacuated are brought back under the prime minister's directive.

The spokesperson said that they were not aware of Pakistani nationals working in association with the Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi led militant movement, Islamic State (IS), in Iraq. “Reports about IS in Pakistan's tribal areas are not correct and Pakistani forces are fighting against militants and this fight is in the middle of its success,” she elaborated.

She said that a small group of activists belonging to the IS, which is led by an Afghan national, has distributed a booklet in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas, particularly in Afghan refugee camps. The booklet called upon people to support the IS which had occupied large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

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