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Pakistani PM Sharif meets China’s Xi in Beijing ahead of IMF talks

China’s President Xi Jinping met Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Beijing on Friday (June 7), Chinese state media reported, days before Pakistan presents its annual budget and applies for a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.

Pakistan’s location on the Arabian Sea gives it strategic importance for China, providing an overland route out towards the Gulf of Aden and onto the Suez Canal, and enabling Chinese ships to avoid the potential chokepoint of the Malacca Strait.

“China will, as always, firmly support Pakistan and safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Xi told Sharif, adding that the two countries’ “all-weather strategic partnership… had broad development prospects.”

Xi also said that China would also help Pakistan with its economic and social development.

Pakistan is in the middle of a debt crisis.

Sharif’s government is expected to seek at least $6 billion under a new IMF programme after it presents its annual budget on June 12. And the $27 billion or so that Pakistan owes China, according to World Bank data, is central to this next round of discussions with the Fund.

(Reuters)

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