Chinese premier's Pakistan trip expected to deepen all-weather partnership
Xinhua | 2013-5-21 21:05:55
By Agencies
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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's first visit to Pakistan since he took office in March is expected to cement the all-weather partnership between the two countries.

Li is due to arrive in Islamabad Wednesday after he concludes an official visit to India in a four-country tour which will also take him to Switzerland and Germany.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Song Tao said earlier that China hopes the visit will "send positive signals to the people of both countries and the international community that China values its relations with Pakistan and is committed to inheriting the traditional friendship and expanding the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides."

As all-weather partners, China will continue to firmly support Pakistan's efforts to maintain stability and seek development, Song said at a press briefing on Li's visit.

During his stay in Islamabad, Li will hold talks with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and interim Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso. He will also meet leaders of Pakistan's parliament, political parties and armed forces.

"We are convinced that through joint efforts, the China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership will be lifted to a new level," Song said.

Since China and Pakistan established diplomatic ties in 1951, the two countries have forged a "time-tested and all-weather friendship."

"Rain or shine, China-Pakistan relations stand weatherproof," said Jin Yinan, a Chinese military strategist with the National Defense University of the People's Liberation Army.

Hu Shisheng, a researcher with China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said China and Pakistan are cooperating very well in various areas as all-weather partners and Li's visit will inject new vitality into economic cooperation.

The two countries are expected to sign three intergovernmental deals on economic and trade cooperation, and a Chinese trade and investment promotion group will also visit Pakistan, said Song, the vice foreign minister.

To revive Pakistan's economy and ensure healthy and sustainable growth, Pakistan needs to improve its own "blood-making capability," said Hu, adding that cooperation with China will help Pakistan in this regard.

In terms of economic ties, Pakistani Ambassador to China Masood Khan has predicted with optimism that the two-way trade would surpass 15 billion US dollars in two or three years.

The two countries inked a free trade agreement in 2006. Official Chinese statistics showed that bilateral trade in recent years grew by more than 20 percent annually.

Aside from the traditional areas of economic cooperation such as mining, construction and infrastructure, Khan said he believes Chinese companies can also play a role in energy, agriculture and IT industry.

The fact that Li's visit comes in the wake of Pakistani general elections demonstrates the high level of mutual trust and the special friendship between the two countries, said Song.

Preparations for Li's visit have not been affected by the polls, he said.

Nawaz Sharif, president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and two-time prime minister, is set to lead Pakistan again after his party won the general elections on May 11 with a comfortable majority to form government.

The power transition is expected to be completed by June 2.

Li is scheduled to meet Sharif.

"The foundation for the China-Pakistan friendship and cooperation is sound and solid," Hu said, adding that no matter which party wins the elections, the new Pakistani government will adhere to a friendly policy toward China.

Meanwhile, to develop friendship with Pakistan is also an established policy of China, said Song.

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