China steps up efforts to defuse tension
December 29, 2008 Monday Zilhaj 30, 1429
By Syed Irfan Raza
ISLAMABAD, Dec 28: China has stepped up efforts to defuse tension between Pakistan and India and sent a seven-member delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister He Yafei on visits to the two countries.
Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq told Dawn that the Chinese minister had arrived here on Sunday on a two-day visit.
He will hold talks with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
The Chinese minister met Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir soon after arriving in the capital and discussed regional issues against the backdrop of the Mumbai attacks.
He stressed the need for maintaining peace and stability in South Asia and said that escalation of tension was not in the interest of India or Pakistan.
He assured that China would remain in close contact with Pakistan in pursuance of peace and stability.
The minister will leave for New Delhi on Monday evening for meetings with Indian leaders.
Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukharjee recently held talks with his Chinese counterpart and urged him to put pressure on Pakistan to arrest the terrorists blamed by New Delhi for Mumbai attacks.
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan called Foreign Minister Qureshi on Sunday and discussed bilateral relations.
Mr Qureshi briefed Mr Babacan on the regional situation and expressed concern over the tension in South Asia, the Foreign Office said.
He said: “It is important that tension is defused and rhetoric is lowered. Terrorism is a common challenge and international community should strengthen Pakistan’s hands to overcome this menace.”
Mr Babacan commended the calm and maturity shown by the Pakistani leadership in the situation.
He said Turkey would play its due role to prevent a conflict in South Asia.