China to consolidate Pakistan ties: Li

Islamabad, May 22 (IANS) China would firmly consolidate and develop ties with Pakistan “no matter how the international and regional situation changes”, said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang who arrived here Wednesday on an official visit to Pakistan.

Li said that as he began his visit, he brought with him the Chinese people’s friendship to the Pakistani people.

Pakistan, a key South Asian country, has made important contributions to peace, stability and development in the region and around the world, Li said in a written statement upon his arrival.

“China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners,” Xinhua quoted him as saying.

Pakistan is the second stop on Li’s first overseas trip since he assumed the Chinese premiership in March. Li left Mumbai earlier in the day after concluding a three-day visit to India.

Li said that since the establishment of diplomatic relations 62 years ago, China and Pakistan have treated each other with equality and mutual trust in political affairs, enjoyed mutual benefit and all-win results in economic areas, and shown mutual understanding and mutual support on issues concerning their respective core interests.

“It is the consistent policy of the Chinese government to develop a friendly relationship with Pakistan. The Chinese side would firmly consolidate and develop China-Pakistan relations no matter how the international and regional situation changes,” the premier said.

China would as always support Pakistan’s efforts to preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity and materialize stability and development in the country, Li added.

Li hoped that, through his visit, the two nations could carry forward their traditional friendship, deepen cooperation and plan for the future.

Li’s plane was escorted by six Pakistani Air Force fighter jets when it entered the country’s airspace.

The Chinese premier was warmly welcomed at the airport by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and interim Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso.

Li, accompanied by Pakistan’s top leaders, inspected the guard of honour and a military band played the national anthems of both countries.

He was expected to exchange views with the Pakistani leaders over bilateral ties and issues of common concern so as to advance China-Pakistan strategic partnership for cooperation.

During his visit to the South Asian nation, Li would meet Zardari and Khoso, as well as leaders from other political parties, the parliament and the military. He was also to address the country’s parliament.

A number of cooperation agreements would be signed in areas such as trade, infrastructure and education.

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