By Islamuddin Sajid
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) - Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will depart on a two-day official visit to China on late Monday.
According to a statement issued by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, Khan is visiting Beijing at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang and he will also meet President Xi Jinping.
"During the visit a number of Agreements/MoUs [Memorandum of Understandings] are expected to be signed at a ceremony to be witnessed by the two Prime Ministers," said Mohammad Faisal, spokesman for the ministry.
Khan’s visit to China came days ahead of Xi's expected tour to India and Nepal.
"We are going to Beijing to discuss the current regional situation with Chinese leadership before President Xi’s informal visit to India," Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters.
“We will discuss all issues -- including the expansion of projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework,” he added.
CPEC, a multibillion mega project signed in 2014 aims to connect China's strategically important northwestern Xinjiang province to the Gwadar port in southern Pakistan through a network of roads, railways, and pipelines to transport cargo, oil, and gas.
- Pakistan Steel Mills
Khan will also be participating in the closing ceremony of the Beijing International Horticulture Expo, as a chief guest, where Premier Li Keqiang will be the host.
According to the Foreign Ministry, Khan will be accompanied by a high-level delegation of ministers and advisers, with Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa will also be attending the prime minister’s meetings with the Chinese leadership.
Earlier, the local media reported that Khan will offer China to help revive the country's largest steel mill through government-to-government deal.
"We will seek China's cooperation in enhancing capacity of Pakistan Steel Mills from existing 1 million to 3 million tons to meet the future demand of the country," Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiyar, the planning minister, told reporters in Islamabad.
The move will reduce the country’s import bill in the steel sector which currently stands at around $2 billion, he added.
Pakistan Steel Mills, a mega industrial complex having the production capacity of over one million tons of steel and iron foundries, was built with contribution of the Soviet Union in 1973.
The two side will also discuss immediate implementation of Phase-II of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to enhance bilateral trade and business.
Pakistan and China had signed the new FTA in April this year.