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Pakistani Premier To Visit China In Search For Financial Help

Pakistani Finance Minister Asad Umar speaks at a news conference in Islamabad on October 25.
Pakistani Finance Minister Asad Umar speaks at a news conference in Islamabad on October 25.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit China next week as he continues his search for help propping up the nation's shaky finances, Pakistani authorities said on October 25.

Khan this week secured $6 billion in funding from Saudi Arabia to help stave off a widening balance of payment crisis.

He said in a televised address on October 24 that his goal is to reduce the size of any potential loan from the International Monetary Fund, which attaches stringent conditions to its loans.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said Khan will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang on his November 2-5 trip to Beijing and the commercial hub of Shanghai.

"The visit will provide an opportunity for the two countries to review the entire spectrum of bilateral relations," with a special focus on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China's massive infrastructure project to connect its western Xinjiang region with the Arabian Sea via Pakistan, ministry spokesman Muhammad Faisal told AFP.

Pakistan's deteriorating finances have raised concerns that portions of the ambitious project may have to be scaled back.

Analysts said Khan will be pushing for financial assistance from Beijing during the visit. China has provided Pakistan with loans in the past and has pledged to spend about $60 billion on infrastructure in Pakistan under its Silk Belt and Road initiative.

Since taking power in August, Khan has sought loans from what he has called "friendly" countries like China and Saudi Arabia, vowed to recover funds stolen by corrupt officials, and embarked on a populist austerity drive to raise cash.

Pakistan has gone to the IMF repeatedly for bailouts since the late 1980s.

The last time was in 2013, when Islamabad got a $6.6 billion loan to tackle a similar balance of payment crisis.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters
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