China has said it supported Pakistan's 'quest for peace through dialogue' to settle the outstanding disputes with India as it backed Islamabad's 'engagement' with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
A joint statement, issued here after the Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan's talks with the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, and Premier, Li Keqiang, said China backed Pakistan's efforts to improve ties with India to settle 'outstanding disputes', without directly mentioning the Kashmir issue.
'China appreciates Pakistan's quest for peace through dialogue, cooperation and negotiation, on the basis of mutual respect and equality, and supports Pakistan's efforts for improvement of Pakistan-India relations and for settlement of outstanding disputes between the two countries,' the joint statement said.
The ties between India and Pakistan had strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups in 2016 and India's surgical strikes inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
In recent years, China has refrained from taking a public stance on the India-Pakistan ties, expressing hope for resolution of the disputes through dialogue.
On the Kashmir issue, China's oft repeated stand was that it should be resolved peacefully through dialogue.
India too supports dialogue as the way to resolve the issue but maintains that the talks and terrorism cannot go together.
For its part, Pakistan supported active participation of China at the platform of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Also significantly, China tacitly expressed its backing for Pakistan's efforts to secure the NSG membership.
India has been seeking entry into the 48-member elite nuclear club, which controls nuclear trade, but China has repeatedly stonewalled its bid.
While India, which is backed by the US and a number of Western countries has garnered the support of a majority of the group's members, China has stuck to its stand that new members should sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), making India's entry difficult as the group is guided by the consensus principle.
China's repeated stonewalling on India's membership bid in the NSG has become a major stumbling block in bilateral relations.
After India's application for entry into the elite group, Pakistan too had applied with the tacit backing of Beijing, which is a key member of the NSG.
'The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to multilateral, non-discriminatory arms control and non-proliferation endeavours,' the joint statement said.
'They noted with concern the continued pursuit of double standards in the application of non-proliferation norms and procedures and called for policies upholding rule of law and long-standing rules,' it added.