ISLAMABAD - Pakistan said on Thursday that China firmly stood by Islamabad while former was in regular contact with Russia.

Addressing a weekly news briefing through video link from Beijing, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said that Chinese President Xi Jinping had termed Pakistan the pillar for regional peace and stability.

“China has appreciated Pakistan's contribution in addressing the challenge of terrorism and also commended Pakistan's relentless efforts for working towards a peaceful neighbourhood,” he said.

Faisal said Jinping, at a meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on the sidelines of Boao Forum in Sanya, China, appreciated Pakistan’s efforts for peace. He said that the two sides exchanged comprehensive in-depth views on enhancing the bilateral cooperation.

On ties with Russia, he said that Minister for Defence Khurram Dastagir Khan visited Russia to attend the 7th Moscow security conference from April 4 to April 6.

“The visit of the defence minister was part of Pakistan–Russia regular interaction on security matters. The defence minister has been attending the Moscow security conference for the last four years,” he said. 

The spokesperson said that the minister met with senior officials of relevant departments and ministries and discussed issues of mutual interest and bilateral defence cooperation. “The defence minister also held meetings with his counterparts of friendly countries on the sidelines,” he said.

When questioned about the Syrian conflict and the tension between the United States and Russia, Faisal said that Pakistan was against interfering in inter-state relations.

“Pakistan’s position on the situation in Syria is based on the principles of international law, the UN Charter and the rules of inter-state conduct with a special focus on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria,” he maintained.

Responding to a question about the killing of a motorcyclist in a car accident by a US diplomat in Islamabad last week, Dr Faisal said that the First Information Report had been registered and the matter was under investigation.

He said Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua has conveyed to US ambassador David Hale that justice will take its course in accordance with the law of the land and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.

He said that the US ambassador had assured the foreign secretary of full cooperation on the issue. “We await results of the investigations before discussing the issue any further,” he said.

About the prime minister's day-long visit to Kabul this month, the spokesperson said that overall, it was a “substantive and successful” visit.

He said the prime minister held in-depth consultations on a whole range of bilateral relations and regional situation with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

He said that the prime minister reiterated Pakistan's support for Ghani's vision for peace and offer of peace talks to the Taliban.

The two sides reaffirmed their commitment for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process, improvement of bilateral trade, avoidance of blame game, facilitating people to people contacts, cultural exchanges, security and counter-terrorism cooperation.

The spokesperson said that they also agreed to finalize memoranda of understanding on connectivity projects between the two countries, operationalize the working groups of Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity, initiate discussions on the exchange of civilian prisoners and working together for the eradication of polio.

He said that the Afghan leadership appreciated the prime minister’s announcement to waive additional regulatory duty on Afghan exports to Pakistan and the gift of 40,000 tons of wheat for our Afghan brethren.

To a question about highlighting the plight of Kashmiris in the held Kashmir at the international level, the spokesperson said that Pakistan will continue to highlight the plight of innocent Kashmiris at the hands of Indian occupation forces at all relevant forums.

He said Indian Deputy High Commissioner J P Singh was summoned to the Foreign Office over unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control, resulting in the death of an innocent civilian woman.

“The Indian forces are continuously targeting civilian populated areas with heavy weapons along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary. In 2018, the Indian forces have carried out more than 900 ceasefire violations, resulting in the death of 21 innocent civilians, while injuring 90 others,” the spokesperson said.

To a question, he said that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Summit was scuttled by India in 2016. “Pakistan condemns the attempt to bring the bilateral issues into multilateral forums. Indian belligerence has brought this multilateral forum to a halt, holding hostage the development and economic progress of the whole region. We expect to hold the, already delayed Summit in Islamabad, at the earliest,” he said.

Regarding the appointment of Ali Jahangir Siddique as ambassador to the US and cases against him, Dr Faisal said: “We have already stated our position in the matter (that this is an administrative subject).”