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Chinese PM to visit Pakistan next month

GUANGZHOU: Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao will visit Pakistan next month to “deepen strategic cooperation” and establish a mechanism for formal and structured dialogue to ensure smooth and real time communication on all issues of common interest.

“We are looking forward to establishing contacts between leaderships of the two countries,” Mr Jiabao said here during a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday.

Two rounds of talks were held — first between top officials of the two countries and the second between the two leaders.

The meeting was attended by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Malik Amad Khan, Ambassador Masood Khan, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah, Board of Investment Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla and president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar.

Mr Babar told reporters that the Chinese premier announced that the second instalment of commodity aid for the flood-affected people in Gilgit-Baltistan would be provided from next week.

China has donated $250 million for flood relief and reconstruction and has also provided assistance to people stranded in the upper Hunza-Attabad lake region.

President Zardari stressed the need for a currency swap agreement and making full use of the Pak-China free trade agreement for increasing bilateral trade to $15 billion. He called for Chinese investment in water and energy projects in Gilgit-Baltistan and Thar coal project in Sindh and for setting up a China-Pakistan energy corporation.

The president congratulated the Chinese premier and people on the successful opening of the 16th Asian Games. He said the Pakistan-China friendship was a symbol of peace and stability in the region.

Mr Zardari reiterated Pakistan’s full support for China on issues relating to Tibet, Taiwan and Xinjiang and said the bilateral strategic cooperation was vital for defending common interests and combating forces of destabilisation. He praised Chinese assistance during the devastating floods in Pakistan.

“We have entered into the post-flood reconstruction phase and are mobilising our own resources, but we also need greater international assistance,” he said.

The Chinese prime minister said: “Every visit of the president (Mr Zardari) has further deepened Pakistan-China cooperation.”

President Zardari also met Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on the sidelines of the Asian Games.

The president stressed the need for early conclusion of a free trade agreement to explore true potential of trade between the two countries.

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