ISLAMABAD - Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s upcoming visit to Pakistan has gained significance as it comes days after the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s all-important trip. Yi is expected to arrive on September 7 (today) for a 3-day visit and will hold meetings with the civil and military leaders.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Pakistan would discuss future of the region, war on terror and other key issues during the Chinese FM’s visit. One official said, “China has been a key ally for decades and we will definitely discuss everything openly with them. While we give importance to the US, China remains the closest friend. The visit of the Chinese FM is very significant.”

Another official said that Pakistan considered all visits from China ‘very important’ due to the close ties. “This is a high-level meeting and of course regional and global issues will be discussed,” he maintained.

Earlier, Pompeo during his recent visit asked Pakistan to ‘deliver’ and complained that Islamabad had not fulfilled commitments in the past. However, the two sides agreed to move forward in their relations for peace and prosperity of the region and world.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited Islamabad briefly with Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford and others on September 5, said at the conclusion of the trip, “We made clear to them that – and they agreed – it’s time for us to begin to deliver on our joint commitments, right.  So we’ve had lots of times where we’ve talked and made agreements, but we haven’t been able to actually execute those.” He added, “And so there was broad agreement between myself and Foreign Minister (Shah Mehmood) Qureshi, as well as with Prime Minister (Imran Khan), that we need to begin to do things that will begin to actually, on the ground, deliver outcomes so that we can begin to build confidence and trust between the two countries.  That was the focus of the gathering.”

Later, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, “We presented realistic stance of Pakistan with responsibility, seriousness and honour.”

Pompeo  is now in New Delhi for inaugural ‘2+2’ dialogue along with Defence Secretary Jim Mattis will hold discussions with counterparts Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman on a host of issues, including Donald Trump administration’s Afghan-Pak strategy which has carved out a more prominent role for India in the region.

Wang Yi’s visit comes amid a fresh standoff between US and its non-NATO frontline ally as it announced suspension of $300 million in Coalition Support Funds for Pakistan.

Angry reactions poured in on the US move with Mushahid Husain, head of foreign affairs committee in the Pakistani Senate, calling it a ‘sop to India’ and disputing that it is ‘aid money.’ “American stoppage of $300m CSF undermines Pompeo’s visit to Islamabad and is a sop to India as he seeks to solidify Indo-US front against Pakistan’s best friend, China; earlier, $500m CSF was stopped; all this is the money owed to Pakistan by the US, not aid,” he tweeted.

A statement issued after Chinese envoy to Islamabad called on Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi recently, said that Pakistan and China are ‘Iron Brothers and close friends.’ China has also been supporting efforts by Pakistan and India to improve ties using Shanghai Cooperation Organisation forum. Beijing has expressed optimism that the two nuclear-armed neighbours’ entry into the SCO could strengthen prospects for peace across the region.

Outgoing President Mamnoon Hussain attended the 18th meeting of the SCO’s Council of the Heads of State at Qingdao in China in June. The Qingdao summit marked a year since Pakistan joined the prestigious organisation as a full member. The Council of Heads of State is the highest decision-making forum of the SCO which meets annually and considers and defines strategy, prospects and priorities of the organisation.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Thursday received UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi at Foreign Office. The high commissioner was accompanied by Mark Lowcock, Under Secretary General for UN Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs. Views were exchanged on global refugee situation with particular focus on Afghan refugees and Pakistan’s efforts and contribution in this context, said a foreign ministry statement.

Foreign Minister Qureshi shared Pakistan’s perspective and priorities with regard to Afghan refugees including within the overall global and regional context. While underscoring Pakistan’s commitment to a dignified and voluntary return of Afghan refugees, the foreign minister underlined the need for continued demonstration of international solidarity, based on long-standing principle of shared responsibility.

High Commissioner Grandi expressed deep appreciation for Pakistan’s generosity and hospitality in hosting millions of Afghan refugees for four decades. Grandi briefed the foreign minister on UNHCR’s role in the follow-up of the Global Compact on Refugees, especially with respect to exploring avenues for enhanced funding streams for refugee hosting countries.

The high commissioner also agreed to work with Pakistan and Afghanistan for building support and mobilising financing for Afghan refugees and host communities. Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua also held detailed discussions with the two visiting dignitaries and their accompanying delegations.

The foreign secretary described creation of requisite pull factors in Afghanistan as essential for dignified return of refugees to their homeland. The visiting dignitaries were also briefed on Pakistan’s efforts and measures to support peace, reconciliation, stability and development in Afghanistan.

Foreign Secretary Janjua conveyed Pakistan’s appreciation for the role and support by UNOCHA during natural disasters and rehabilitation of TDPs.

Grandi and Lowcock are visiting Pakistan from September 6-9. As part of their visit, they will also hold meetings in SAFRON, visit Peshawar and Voluntary Repatriation Centre in Azakhel, Nowshera. Grandi will also deliver a public talk at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad.