The visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Pakistan will be another milestone in the history of the two countries' bilateral relations, according to Salman Bashir, Pakistan's ambassador to China.
"The visit is a continuation of the regular high-level exchanges which the leaders of the two friendly countries have maintained over more than 50 years, and the government and people of Pakistan are eagerly awaiting the visit," said Bashir.
Wen will pay an official visit to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India from April 5 to 12, with Pakistan as the first stop of his tour. Wen will be present at the 4th foreign ministers' meeting of Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) to be held on April 6 in Islamabad.
"We expect to sign a number of agreements, which would pave the way for enhanced Pakistan-China economic cooperation and strengthen our all round, comprehensive partnership," he said.
Bashir said Pakistan takes great pride in the close friendship and cooperation that the two countries have maintained for over half a century, and that relations between the two nations go back to antiquity when the Silk Road served as a conduit for commerce.
The visit to China by Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz not long ago and Wen's coming tour to Pakistan are the continuation of high-level exchanges that are the hallmark of the bilateral ties and a sign of trust and understanding between the two countries, he said.
The ambassador noted Pakistan's desire to further Pakistan- China economic cooperation which is at around three billion dollars at present. "We intend to make our economic and cultural cooperation commensurate with the depth of our strong political relations," he said.
Tourism and interpersonal contact are all the more necessary, he said, adding that Pakistan has been approved as a tourist destination by China. Currently a 100-member youth delegation from China is visiting Pakistan, and the Pakistan youth delegation visited China last year. "We hope to further promote the exchanges between the two peoples," Bashir said.
He expressed gratitude for the support and assistance of China to Pakistan, saying China has always followed the five principles of peaceful co-existence and neighborly policy in its foreign policy, and its interaction with south Asia is "a factor of peace and stability in the region and the world".
Bashir took the post of ambassador only a week ago, but he had visited China several times before. He has been impressed by the progress China has made on economic development.
"China is not only a country; it is a civilization which is over five thousand years old. We take great pride in the transformation that China has undergone," he said.