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Chinese government's top diplomat in Pakistan to meet new government

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By Saad Sayeed

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – The Chinese government’s top diplomat was in Pakistan on Saturday for the first high-level meetings between the neighbours since new Prime Minister Imran Khan took office, the south Asian nation’s foreign office said.

Beijing has pledged $57 billion in loans for Pakistan as part of its vast Belt and Road initiative, deepening ties at a time when Islamabad’s relations with Washington are fraying over how to deal with Islamist militants waging war in Afghanistan.

State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s three-day visit follows a meeting between Khan and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday.

Wang will hold “delegation-level talks” with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and will also call on the Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the foreign office said.

“Our two sides will exchange views on bilateral relations and the international and regional issues of mutual interest,” Chinese foreign office spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a news conference in Beijing.

Pakistan is battling a worsening balance of payments crisis that may push it to seek a fresh bailout from the International Monetary Fund, or other lenders.

Pompeo’s trip, along with the U.S. chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, was the first high-level U.S. visit to the new government, with the secretary of state saying he was hopeful for “a reset of relations” between the two countries.

(Reporting by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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