Highlighting deep-rooted historical relations between the two countries, Dar appreciated the Chinese support for Pakistan and underscored the need to further deepen the existing ties in economy and trade, as well as, financial sectors. Chunxue offered greetings to the federal minister on Eid ul Fitr and praised the friendly relations between the two countries. The two sides discussed bilateral relations and avenues to enhance existing cooperation in multiple fields. The meeting comes as Pakistan scrambles to reach a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the revival of a stalled loan programme that the country desperately needs to stave off the risk of default. The government has been in talks with the Washington-based lender since end-January for the release of the $1.1 billion loan tranche that has been on hold since November, part of a $6.5 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) agreed upon in 2019. The IMF had asked Pakistan to ensure that its balance of payments deficit was financed before an agreement could be reached. In this regard, China rolled over $2 billion and refinanced another $1.3 billion in recent weeks. Separately, according to the “Disbursement Report March 2022” published by the Economic Affairs Division last week, China has provided $54.93 million to Pakistan in loans and grants during the current fiscal year. A day earlier, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the IMF deal would be inked next week.