China on Friday expressed unequivocal support to Pakistan on the issue of fighting terrorism, saying Islamabad had "a clear conscience" and had made "great sacrifices".
Foreign Minister Wang Yi also said "some countries" needed to give Pakistan "full credit", in what could be a veiled comment aimed at both the United States, with President Donald Trump last month hitting out at the "safe havens" there, and at India, which has called on Pakistan to crack down on terror groups that operate out of its soil and target India.
Wang's comment came following a meeting in Beijing with his Pakistani counterpart Khawaja Muhammad Asif, and just four days after China had endorsed the declaration at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen which expressed concern for the first time on several Pakistan-based terror groups.
The Xiamen declaration expressed concern on violence caused by "the Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al-Qaida and its affiliates including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP and Hizb ut-Tahrir", though it did not name Pakistan.
Wang on Friday strongly endorsed Pakistan's counterterror efforts, which have been in the spotlight following Trump pointing to "safe havens" and the BRICS declaration for the first time naming Pakistan-based groups.
Wang's comments suggest China endorsing the BRICS statement might not necessarily imply a change in Beijing's stance of backing Pakistan diplomatically on terror issues, for instance by blocking efforts to sanction Pakistani terrorists at the UN Security Council sanctions committee.
"Terrorism is a global issue and requires concerted efforts from all countries, instead of blaming each other, countries need to work with each other", Wang said. "Pakistan is a good brother and iron friend of China. No one knows Pakistan and understands Pakistan better than China. For years Pakistan has been a victim of terror and more importantly Pakistan is an important participant in international cooperation against terrorism."
Wang said, "The government and people of Pakistan made huge efforts and sacrifice in the fight against terrorism and such efforts and sacrifice are there for everyone to see". "The international community should recognise that", he said.
"When it comes to the issue of counterterrorism, we believe Pakistan has done its best with a clear conscience. In comparison, some countries need to give Pakistan the full credit it deserves," he added.
China invited Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif for talks on Thursday, two days after BRICS concluded. Wang told reporters on Friday after talks that relations were "unbreakable" and had "become a steady anchor for regional peace".
Both sides held talks on deepening cooperation in Afghanistan, particularly against the backdrop of U.S. President Trump outlining his new policy. Wang said a first-ever China-Afghanistan-Pakistan foreign ministers' trilateral would be held in Beijing before the end of the year.
On Trump's new Afghan policy, which also called on India to play a greater role in security matters and evoked concern in Pakistan, Wang said China hoped it would "accommodate the legitimate security concerns of regional countries".
Both sides also discussed their ongoing projects under the massive $46 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Asif, the Pakistan Foreign Minister, said that they would "respond to any threat to CPEC", although he didn't specify threats from where.
Ahead of BRICS, China had said that it would not be appropriate to discuss Pakistan's counter-terrorism and the concerns of countries like India, at the September 3 Summit in Xiamen.