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President Musharraf arrives in Beijing
By Le tian (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-20 06:46

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf arrived in Beijing yesterday to start his five-day visit to China, with bilateral agreements on economic co-operation on his agenda.

Musharraf is expected to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao this afternoon. Twelve agreements and a memorandum of understanding on bilateral co-operation are likely to be signed following the two leaders' meeting.

On his third state visit to China as president, Musharraf hopes his visit will further broaden co-operation between the two friendly neighbours.

"We hope to further broaden our co-operation and reach agreement with strategic effect," he said in an interview with a group of Chinese journalists at the presidential palace on the eve of his visit to China.

Musharraf said Pakistan and China could work together in such fields as telecommunications, energy, health and higher education.

The president's visit marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. He will also meet Premier Wen Jiaobao, top legislator Wu Bangguo, and Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Jia Qinglin.

The Pakistani leader is also scheduled to speak at a business forum in an attempt to consolidate bilateral trade ties and seek more Chinese investment in Pakistan. According to a Pakistani embassy official, joint ventures in textiles, energy and communications will be explored.

Last week, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang described the visit as crucial to cementing "Sino-Pakistani all-weather friendship and all-directional co-operation."

The bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and China reached US$4.26 billion last year, up from US$3.06 billion in 2004, showing steady growth in economic relations between the two countries, according to figures released by the General Administration of Customs of China.

The two countries are negotiating a free trade agreement and aim to push total trade exchanges exceeding US$8 billion by 2008.

China is assisting Pakistan with development projects in the fields of communications, nuclear energy, defence production and training, health and education. Several projects, including the expansion of the Gwadar Dam project and the Chashma II nuclear power project, are being undertaken with China's help.

(China Daily 02/20/2006 page2)

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