FM Qureshi leaves for ‘very important’ two-day China visit

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday left for a two-day visit to China to attend the second round of the China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue, a statement from the Foreign Office said.

In a video message released before his departure, Qureshi said he was going on a “very important trip to China” and that he had a discussion with Prime Minister Imran Khan before leaving.

“I am leaving on a very important visit to China. I had a discussion with the prime minister regarding this visit yesterday. My delegation will represent the stance of the political and military leadership of the country. I am hopeful that my meeting with Foreign Minster Wang Yi will prove to be beneficial for both countries,” the foreign minister said.

Qureshi, who is accompanied by senior officials, will visit China’s Hainan province where he will lead the Pakistani delegation in the dialogue, the FO statement added. He is scheduled to return tomorrow

State Councillor and Foreign Minster Wang Yi will lead the Chinese side during the dialogue, according to the statement.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi boards the plane for his visit to China. — Photo courtesy FO
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi boards the plane for his visit to China. — Photo courtesy FO

“During the dialogue, both sides will discuss cooperation on Covid-19, bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest,” the FO said.

“The visit will play an important role in further strengthening Pakistan-China ‘All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership’ and deepen strategic communication and coordination with China on a range of issues.”

The first round of the China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue took place in March 2019 in which both sides vowed to protect the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor from all kinds of threats.

South Korean coronavirus infections fan out nationwide from church cluster

Novel coronavirus infections have spread nationwide from a church in the South Korean capital, raising fears that one of the world’s virus mitigation success stories might yet suffer a disastrous outbreak, a top health official said on Thursday.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 288 new cases as of midnight on Wednesday, marking a week of triple-digit daily increases, but offering a ray of hope in that there was no surge from the previous day’s tally of 297.

Overall, South Korea has reported 16,346 cases of the coronavirus with 307 deaths.

The latest outbreak has been driven by hundreds of cases in a church run by a radical conservative preacher whose followers have also attended anti-government protests in central Seoul in recent weeks, seeding infections there too.

“The reason we take the recent situation seriously is because this transmission, which began to spread around a specific religious facility, is appearing nationwide through certain rallies,” Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told a briefing.

Authorities have tested 3,263 members of the congregation, of whom 630 have tested positive, Kim said. Hundreds more church members are being traced for testing.

Another 53 infections, including 33 from the church, have been linked to the anti-government rallies in Seoul which drew thousands of people.

The positive cases from the rallies include people from nine different cities and provinces across the country. Kim did not identify those places but said 114 facilities, including the places of work of infected people, were facing risk of transmission.

“This is a grave situation that could possibly lead to a nationwide pandemic,” Kim said.

The southern city of Busan on Wednesday reported two cases linked to the protests in the capital.