China on Thursday hosted Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Defence Minister A K Antony in a rare diplomatic tango with its all weather friend and India.
As both Sharif and Antony arrived here, state-television projected it as a rare diplomatic event by China hosting top leaders from both the countries, setting off a new phase with cordial ties with them.
"Both India and Pakistan are very important countries in our neighbourhood," Wang Shida, a researcher with the China Institute of Contemporary Relations, told CCTV news. "China-India have established strategic cooperative partnership since 2005. Meantime China and Pakistan enjoyed all weather partnership for a half a century.
"It means both India and Pakistan are important diplomatically to China. Premier Li Keqiang's visit to both the countries last month sets very good example," he said.
Though their visits were a coincident, the two were not expected to cross paths here.
Antony, who is the first Defence Minister to visit China in seven years, arrived here on a four-day visit.
Recent border incursion by China's People's Liberation Army troops, finalisation of the Border Defence Coordination Agreement (BDSA) to maintain peace at the disputed borders as well as resumption of bilateral military exercises top Antony's agenda for talks with the Chinese leadership.
The Pakistan Prime Minister, who arrived here on his first foreign visit after returning to power, met Chinese President Xi Jinping and sought assistance in energy, transport and infrastructure projects.
He told Xi that Pakistan is faced with numerous challenges and it has an uphill task to pull the economy out from the current economic difficulties.