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China, Pakistan to bolster ties

(China Daily)

08:33, May 23, 2013

Premier Li Keqiang is congratulated by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari after being conferred the Nishan-e-Pakistan honor, for the highest degree of service to Pakistan, in Islamabad on Wednesday. PANG XINGLEI / XINHUA

China and Pakistan said on Wednesday they will set up an economic corridor to further connect their two economies.

The announcement came as Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Islamabad less than two weeks after the Pakistani general election.

Officials and experts said the huge plan will greatly support Pakistan's efforts to revive its economy, while the timing of the visit reflects the deep mutual trust between the two nations.

Li met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and with interim prime minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso on Wednesday afternoon.

Later, he and Zardari officiated at the signing ceremony of 11 cooperation documents covering areas including trade, technology and culture.

Li said at a joint press conference with Zardari that China and Pakistan have agreed on a long-term plan for an economic corridor to further connect central and western parts of China with Pakistan.

"China and Pakistan would like to closely link China's (plans) for expanding domestic demand and developing the western regions with Pakistan's plan for developing its domestic economy," Li said.

The plan carries "great strategic significance in maintaining peace and improving livelihoods in China, Pakistan, South Asia and even the whole of Asia", the premier said.

Li is the first world leader to visit the country after Pakistani Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (N) party swept to victory in the May 11 general election on a promise to revitalize the struggling economy.

The party's election manifesto put the emphasis on large infrastructure projects, while outlining the involvement of the private sector in infrastructure development — widely seen as an opportunity for China.

China is Pakistan's second- largest trading partner. Bilateral trade reached $12 billion annually for the first time last year, according to Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, and the two countries plan to raise this to $15 billion in the next two to three years.

Tariq Fatemi, former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, said the visit is crucial in drawing up an economic roadmap for the incoming government.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:HuangBeibei、Yao Chun)

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