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Pakistan, China vow to boost strategic ties

* Zardari, Jiabao express resolve to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in economic, defence, energy sectors

GUANGZHOU: President Asif Ali Zardari and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Friday vowed to further strengthen the deep-rooted and multifaceted Sino-Pak ties and strategic relationship through increased cooperation in diverse fields.

The two leaders, who met on the sidelines of the 16th Asian Games being hosted by China, had a delegation-level and later a one-on-one meeting, and exchanged views on various issues of mutual interest, including bilateral relations, regional situation and matters of international importance.

Wen said he would visit Pakistan in December to “deepen strategic cooperation” and proposed the establishment of a mechanism for formal and structured dialogue at ministerial level. Zardari welcomed him and said the government and the people of Pakistan looked forward to his visit. The two leaders agreed on various issues of regional and international importance, with particular reference to peace and stability of the region. Wen noted the role Pakistan was playing in countering terrorists and said with increased cooperation, the two countries would be in a better position to counter terrorism.

Cooperation: Both the leaders also expressed their firm resolve to further strengthen ties in economic, defence and energy sectors.

President Zardari noted that two-way trade between the two countries had risen to around $7 billion, up from the $2 billion in 2002, but was still far below the trade potential of the two countries.

Briefing reporters, the president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said Zardari called for a currency swap agreement with China and taking full advantage of the free trade agreement to take bilateral trade to $15 billion soon.

Zardari also stressed on the need to enhance connectivity by developing pipelines, rail links and fibre optic link.

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