Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today left for Beijing to attend a two-day conference on the ambitious Belt and Road initiative, a part of which passes through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The Belt and Road (B&R) Forum for International Cooperation, likely to be attended by 28 world leaders, begins on Sunday and Beijing aims to project the summit as a global acceptance of its initiative.
The B&R initiative aims to connect China to Eurasia through a maze of road, rail and port projects. Radio Pakistan reported that several agreements are expected to be signed in connection with the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during Sharif’s visit.
The CPEC is a part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road (B&R) initiative. It aims to revive ancient land and sea routes – New Silk Road and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road – to connect China with Asia, Africa and European markets.
But the CPEC passes through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and resultantly India has raised objection to the plan.
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India is yet to confirm its participation in the B&R Forum. The US and a number of other western countries have either skipped the summit or deputed officials to attend it.
The Pakistan prime minister is accompanied by a high- level delegation, including the four chief ministers and some federal ministers.
Sharif will also have Sartaj Aziz, his adviser on foreign affairs, by his side during the visit. He will attend the inaugural session of the summit and the plenary meeting of the high-level dialogue and the state banquet.
He will attend the leaders’ roundtable sessions on second day of the forum and hold meetings with President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang.