Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has invited Turkey to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), amid India's continued opposition to the projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
PM Shehbaz Sharif made this proposal during a joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his Ankara visit.
"I would suggest that let this be a cooperation between China, Pakistan, and Turkiye. This would be a wonderful joint cooperation ... This is how we can meet the challenges of today," Sharif was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
According to the Pakistan newspaper, PM Sharif said that he would be "happy" to discuss the matter with the Chinese leadership if Turkey moved ahead with the idea of joining CPEC.
This development comes a few weeks after Pakistan and China decided to go ahead with a plan to extend CPEC to Afghanistan despite opposition from India on issues of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
CPEC is a key part of China's ambitious project Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), aimed at renewing the country's ancient trade routes. India has consistently opposed the USD 60 billion project, which links Pakistan's southern Gwadar port in Balochistan to China's western Xinjiang and passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
During Sharif's official visit to Beijing earlier this month, China assured Pakistan of its continued support of the country's sustainable economic and strategic projects.
"The two sides underscored the need for the international community to provide continued assistance and support to Afghanistan including through unfreezing of Afghanistan's overseas financial assets. The two sides agreed to continue their humanitarian and economic assistance for the Afghan people and enhance development cooperation in Afghanistan, including through CPEC's extension to Afghanistan," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
After reports of CPEC extension emerged in July, India strongly objected to the expansion of the CPEC projects in any third country and expressed concern about its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"We have seen reports on encouraging proposed participation of third countries in so-called CPEC projects. Any such actions by any party directly infringe on India's sovereignty and territorial integrity," External Affair Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said.
He said India firmly and consistently opposes projects in the so-called CPEC, which are in Indian territory that has been illegally occupied by Pakistan. (ANI)