Pakistan PM Sharif to visit China June 4-8, foreign ministry says

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ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will visit China from June 4 to 8 on the invitation of President Xi Jinping, Pakistan's foreign ministry said on Friday.

Chinese investment and financial support since 2013 have been key for the South Asian nation's struggling economy, including the rolling over of loans so that Islamabad is able to meet external financing needs at a time foreign reserves are critically low.

The trip will seek to upgrade cooperation under the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a key part of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative, the foreign office spokesman Mumtaz Baloch said in a press briefing.

"An important aspect of the prime minister's visit will be meetings with corporate executives of leading Chinese companies dealing with oil and gas, energy, ICT and emerging technologies," Baloch said.

Sharif will meet President Xi and hold delegation level talks with Premier Li Qiang, Baloch added.

China has also invested billions in various power projects and road networks in Pakistan under the $65 billion CPEC plan, but the implementation of various projects has slowed in recent months.

Chinese citizens and interests have been regularly attacked in Pakistan by militants, the most recent of which was the killing of six Chinese engineers in a suicide bombing in March. The engineers were working on a dam in northern Pakistan.

Beijing has pressed Pakistan to guarantee the safety of Chinese organisations and personnel working there.

The announcement of Sharif's visit comes days after Pakistan announced it had arrested 11 Islamist militants involved in the bombing. Islamabad has said the militants operate out of Afghanistan, but Kabul has rejected the charges.

(Reporting by Gibran Peshimam; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Sharon Singleton)