Former Pakistani PM welcomes Chinese premier visit

20:27, December 13, 2010      

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Former Pakistani Prime Minister and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif said on Monday the upcoming visit by Chinese premier Wen Jiabao would further cement the already time- tested bilateral relations.

The Foreign Ministry of Pakistan announced on Monday that Wen Jiabao will visit Pakistan from Dec. 17 to 19, 2010 at the invitation of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

"The government and people of Pakistan look forward to welcoming their most honored friend," the Foreign Ministry statement said.

Nawaz Sharif said that China is the most reliable friend of Pakistan and he praised China for its continued support and help to Pakistan in the difficult times.

"Pakistan-China friendship is 60 years old and I would also play my role in further strengthening relations with China," he told reporters at the city of Rajanpur in Punjab province.

The former prime minister said he has accepted an invitation by President Asif Ali Zardari to attend a banquet he would be hosting in honor of the Chinese premier.

Opposition leaders in Pakistan usually turn down requests from the government to attend functions in honor of foreign guests due to political differences.

"I would be happy to attend the banquet for the Chinese premier, " Sharif said.

During his three-day official visit to Pakistan, Premier Wen will meet with President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani to discuss wide-ranging topics of mutual interest. Wen will also address a joint session of the parliament on Dec. 19.

The focus of the talks will be on building up mutually beneficial economic partnership, and greater understanding and cooperation on regional and international affairs.

Strict security measures have been taken in the country prior to Wen's visit and the capital police are making stringent security arrangements.

Source: Xinhua
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