Duterte skips Belt and Road gala dinner

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Earlier, the prime minister visited China in November a year ago.

The Prime Minister visited China in August past year.

PM Imran will also deliver a keynote speech in the opening ceremony of the forum and participate in the Leaders' Round Table and participate in events related to the Belt and Road Initiative.

"I am strongly committed to further strengthening Pakistan-China relationship".

"We look forward to a productive discussion on matters of mutual interest and concern", he added.

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"Our countrymen are assured that the President is chartering our independent foreign policy to a new height of diplomatic relations with other nations, exclusively based on our national security and interest and towards a direction that will contribute to our national development, as well as the realisation of the aspiration of our people to attain economic progress and comfortable life for the greater masses of our countrymen", Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

"It's time that we assert our sovereignty and protect our territory".

China has not said exactly how much money will be needed in total, but some independent estimates suggest it will run into several trillion dollars.

About the second phase of CPEC, the prime minister said the two countries were jointly focusing on socio-economic development, job creation, as well as livelihood, agriculture and industrial projects, including special economic zones under the corridor project.

Chinese President Xi Jinping greets visiting President Rodrigo Duterte at the Great Hall of the People on Thursday, with the two leaders expected to discuss the South China Sea dispute.

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At the forum, Duterte met with other ASEAN leaders such as Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha of Thailand, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phoc of Viet Nam.

Duterte said he will work with President Xi to rise above disturbances and uphold firm conviction to make friendly cooperation prevail in bilateral relations.

In addition to participating in the Belt and Road Forum, Mr Khan will hold bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

He said Pakistan also wants to sign an expanded free trade agreement with China. Leaders from 40 countries and delegations from over 100 countries, worldwide organisations and corporate sector would participate in the event.

After the forum, the prime minister will address a Pakistan business and investment forum on April 28.

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