China's President Xi Jinping will visit Pakistan this year, China's foreign minister said in Islamabad, in what will be his first trip to the country's western neighbor since taking office in 2013.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the announcement on Thursday in Pakistan's capital, where he spoke of the two countries' "all-weather" friendship.
Xi was scheduled to go to Pakistan last year, but the trip was postponed due to anti-government protests in Pakistan.
"Wang Yi said President Xi Jinping will make a state visit to Pakistan at the earliest possible date this year," a statement posted to the Foreign Ministry's website late on Thursday said.
"This will be President Xi's first visit to Pakistan as head of state, and the first visit by a Chinese president in nine years," Wang said, adding that China-Pakistan relations should be a model for the region.
On his two-day visit Wang offered help in mediating stalled efforts to engage the Afghan Taliban in peace negotiations, reflecting China's desire to play a more active role in a region it sees as part of its sphere of influence.
Afghanistan and its Western backers have been trying to bring Taliban figures to the negotiating table to end years of war in the country. Pakistan is key to the process because of its historic ties to the Taliban leaders, who have used the Pakistani border region as a safe haven.