New Delhi: Ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s two day expected visit to India for the second informal summit later this week, China has said the Kashmir issue should be resolved between New Delhi and Islamabad, significantly omitting its recent references that the dispute should be sorted out according to UN Security Council resolutions. This marks a return to China’s position on Kashmir prior to the stance it took after India scrapped a temporary provision of its constitution giving special status to Kashmir on 6 August.

This comes as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for talks with Xi, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang during his media briefing here on Tuesday did not make any official announcement about Xi’s visit to India. However, Chinese officials informally said an announcement would be made simultaneously in Beijing and New Delhi on Wednesday, the PTI report said. The Foreign Ministry has also called for a special media briefing on Wednesday on "Chinese leader's outbound visit."

"India and China have a tradition of high-level exchanges. Both sides have communication exchange over high-level visit. Any new information will be released soon," Geng said in response to questions on Xi’s visit to India.

Both India and China are major developing countries of the world and major emerging markets, he said.

"Since the Wuhan informal summit (last year), our bilateral relations have gathered good momentum," he said according to the PTI report.

"We have been advancing our cooperation and properly managing our differences. We have a tradition of high level exchange and our two sides are maintaining communication on high level exchange in the next phase. We should make good atmosphere and environment for this," he said.

When asked about Khan's visit to Beijing ahead of Xi's trip to India and whether the Kashmir issue will figure in his talks with the Chinese leaders, Geng said that China's stand is that the Kashmir issue should be resolved between India and Pakistan.

"China's position on Kashmir issue is clear and consistent", he said.

"We call on India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue and consultation on all issues including Kashmir issue and consolidate mutual trust. This is in line with interest of both countries and common aspiration of the world," he said.

His comments marked a significant shift on what China has been saying on Kashmir in recent weeks in the aftermath of India's move to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution removing the special status to Kashmir.

In its first reaction on 6 August, the Chinese foreign ministry issued two separate statements.

In one statement, China also expressed its opposition to India's move to create a separate Union Territory of Ladakh highlighting Beijing’s territorial claims in the area.

The second statement said, "we call on both India and Pakistan to peacefully resolve the relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation and safeguard peace and stability in the region".

But, China added UN and UNSC resolutions on Kashmir when Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited Beijing few days later and met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

"It (Kashmir issue) should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreement," Wang had then said.

A closed-door meeting of the UNSC on Kashmir where China maintained the same stand ended without any outcome or statement, in a snub to Beijing and Islamabad.

Later, Wang in his UN General Assembly speech mentioned the same which drew protests from India.

Geng’s comments on Tuesday marks China's return to its original stand that Kashmir issue should be resolved bilaterally.

On Khan's visit, Geng said China attaches "great importance" his trip.

Khan arrived here on a two-day official visit to China during which he is to meet China’s top leaders and discuss issues of regional and bilateral significance, news reports from Islamabad have said.

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