The Chinese government on Thursday indicated it would play no role in pressuring Pakistan to crack down on terrorist groups operating on its soil, reiterating its position that cross-border terrorism and Kashmir were issues for India and Pakistan to resolve.

Indian officials had called on China in talks this week, during Premier Wen Jiabao's ongoing visit, to express support in strong terms on combating terrorism. Mr. Wen will leave New Delhi for Islamabad on Friday on a three-day visit.

Asked if China would be willing to work with India to combat terrorism as well as to pressure Pakistan to crack down on terrorist groups, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said: “Both India and Pakistan are important neighbours to China, and China's friends. We hope India and Pakistan can strengthen cooperation and exchanges so as to improve relations, which is of great importance to peace and stability in South Asia.”

Asked if this meant China believed it had no role to play, Ms. Jiang said China's position was that “the two sides should engage in friendly consultations and resolve the issues,” including Kashmir.

“We hope the two countries can co-exist in a friendly manner and jointly contribute to regional peace and development,” she said.

Speaking ahead of Mr. Wen's Islamabad visit, Pakistan's Ambassador in Beijing Masood Khan said Pakistan “expects China to play a bigger role in peace and stability, especially in facilitating dialogues” between Pakistan and India.

“We hope China will, over time, be able to persuade India to have sustainable dialogues with Pakistan for the resolution of all outstanding issues, including Kashmir,” he told the official Global Times in an interview.

But Chinese analysts say China remains far from likely to involve itself in the issue. Rong Ying, the vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, told The Hindu in a recent interview he believed there would be no change in China's position on Kashmir.

China's official policy is that Kashmir is an issue for India and Pakistan to resolve and it would maintain a position of neutrality over the dispute. Indian officials have, however, expressed concern that China was recently recalibrating its position, citing its issuing of stapled visas to Indian citizens from Jammu and Kashmir and its increasing investments in infrastructure projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Chinese officials had reportedly told their Indian counterparts in recent talks that issuing stapled visas was an “administrative” problem and not a political statement. But Indian officials say by doing so, China has questioned Indian sovereignty, and effectively moved away from its stated position of neutrality on Kashmir.

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