China on Wednesday announced that Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou is in Islamabad to discuss the India-Pakistan tensions following the Pulwama terror attack, as it called for the creation of an "enabling atmosphere" for its close ally Pakistan to cooperate with "other parties".
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Vice Foreign Minister Kong's Islamabad visit is "designed for communication with Pakistan for the situation concerning both India and Pakistan."
"China has been promoting peace and stability in this region. We hope that Pakistan and India will maintain friendly relations," he told a media briefing in Beijing.
Tensions between India and Pakistan flared up after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed killed 40 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir on February 14.
Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting a JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force crossed the border and targeted Indian military installations and were chased back by Indian jets. In the ensuing dogfight, a MiG-21 of the Air Force shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter, but was also struck and went down. Its pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistan, who was returned to India on Friday.
China has repeatedly urged India and Pakistan to "exercise restraint" and asked New Delhi to carry out its fight against terrorism through international cooperation.
"I hope the two sides can show some goodwill, embrace each other halfway, properly resolve their differences through dialogue. China will play constructive role to promote dialogue between them," Lu said.
When asked about the main thrust of Kong's visit and whether he would discuss more counter terrorism efforts with Pakistan, Lu said, "In fact, Pakistan has been making efforts and exercised policies to combat terrorism. We think we should encourage this."
"We hope relevant parties will create an enabling atmosphere to help Pakistan to cooperate with other parties to form synergy," he said, without directly referring to India.
Responding to a question whether Kong would visit India too, Lu said, "China is in contact with India and Pakistan concerning the current circumstances."
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi earlier said that China would send a special envoy to Pakistan and India to defuse the tensions.
When asked whether Kong would also discuss the recent resolution at the Russia, India, China (RIC) Foreign Ministers' meeting at the Chinese city of Wenzhou where the three countries agreed for policy coordination to eradicate breeding grounds of terrorism, Lu said that the resolution of root causes of terrorism is also important.
"As to counter terrorism issue in the trilateral meeting, I shall say a key point is that terrorism is a complex issue. We should address the symptom and the root causes of terrorism that is the premise for what was proposed by foreign Ministers of the three countries," he said.
About the latest resolution submitted by France, the UK and the US in the UN Security Council to list JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, Lu said China would take a conducive decision to resolve the differences.
China so far stonewalled India's efforts to declare Azhar as a global terrorist by the UNSC.
To a question whether China would support the resolution or abstain, Lu said, "like we said on many occasions the UNSC and affiliated bodies, it is a very serious issue for them to list the terrorists. China will have discussions with relevant bodies."
Asked whether China's stand would be different this time as JeM has admitted its role in the Pulwama attack, Lu said that the UNSC and its affiliated bodies have detailed criteria and standards for their work.
"China is engaged in consultations strictly in line with the standards. It requires high responsibility for us to work in these multilateral organisations and I can assure you that what China does will be conducive to resolution of such issue with high responsibility," he said.
Lu also welcomed Pakistan's plans to open a corridor for the visa-free visit of Indian Sikh pilgrims to a Guru Nanak shrine in Kartarpur.
Pakistan on Tuesday said it will send a delegation to India on March 14 to discuss a draft agreement for setting up the corridor to facilitate visa-free visit of Sikh pilgrims to Kartarpur.
"We also noted this progress. We believe this is conducive to easing the situation. This is a positive progress," Lu said while replying to a question.
"Pakistan and India are neighbours that can't be moved away. The good neighbourliness and friendliness between the two countries are in line with their fundamental interests as well as the peace stability of the region," he added.