China seeks closer ties, enhanced strategic cooperation with Pakistan: Li (Roundup)

Islamabad, May 23 (IANS) Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday urged China and Pakistan to nurture even closer ties, and enhance comprehensive strategic cooperation while addressing Pakistan’s parliament.

In a speech titled “Let all-weather China-Pakistan friendship bear new fruits,” Li said peace, development and cooperation is the theme of the times, and Asia has become one of the most dynamic and most visible areas worldwide, reported Xinhua.

“The deeply-rooted traditional friendship has laid a solid foundation for further development of China-Pakistan relations, while in the fast-changing era, we should do even better to advance the bilateral strategic cooperation in an all-around way,” Li said.

He said the two nations should build an even closer relationship and step up their cooperation to cope with the profound international transformations and the challenges facing Asia.

Li said China would like to work with Pakistan to maintain close high-level contacts, strengthen communication and coordination over issues concerning each other’s major interests, and deepen their comprehensive strategic cooperation.

The two nations need to explore their pragmatic cooperation in all areas, formulate a long-term plan for the China-Pakistan economic corridor project, promote connectivity between South and East Asia, and help improve people’s livelihood.

The Chinese premier also suggested that the two countries expand their people-to-people and cultural exchange, and closely coordinate over regional and international affairs.

Over the next five years, China will help train 1,000 Chinese language teachers for Pakistan and set up more Confucius Institutes in the country, Li added.

He noted that Pakistan still faces difficult tasks in its social and economic development.

“As Pakistan’s closest friend and brother, we would like to provide as much assistance as we can for the Pakistani side,” Li said.

The Chinese and Pakistani economies are highly complementary, and huge potential could be tapped in their respective markets, thus it is necessary for both sides to enhance their cooperation, said Li.

Hailing Pakistan’s long history and rich culture, Li said, over the past 60-plus years, the Pakistani government and people have made great achievements in building up and rejuvenating the nation, and have appropriately handled grim challenges.

He lauded Pakistan’s role in promoting regional cooperation in South Asia and safeguarding regional and international security.

“We sincerely hope that the brotherly Pakistani people will make even more accomplishments in their national development, and that the country will play an important, constructive role in international and regional affairs,” Li added.

Ever since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries 62 years ago, their all-weather friendship and comprehensive cooperation has withstood international vicissitudes and could be taken as an example for state-to-state relations, said the Chinese premier.

China is now at a crucial stage to complete the build-up of a well-off society, he said, adding that promoting a continuous and healthy economic development, and unleashing the dividends of reforms requires China to open its door to the outside world even wider.

He said Pakistan has a unique role to play as China develops its relations with countries in the Southern, Central and Western Asia.

Li made a two-day official visit to Pakistan from Wednesday to Thursday, the second leg of his first overseas tour after assuming the premiership in March.

Before arriving in Pakistan, Li visited India. The tour would also take him to Switzerland and Germany.

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