Amid concerns voiced by India over China's plans to have a rail link with Pakistan through the Karakoram ranges, Beijing on Thursday said the Sino-Pak 'strategic' partnership was not aimed at targeting any third country.
"China and Pakistan are strategic partners enjoying profound traditional friendship. We have shared deepening cooperation across the board," Foreign office spokesman Qing Gang said at a press briefing while evading a direct response to a query about reports of the proposed rail link through the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region.
"Our cooperation is traditionally beneficial and not targeted against any third country. Such cooperation is not only beneficial for the two countries but also great for the peace and prosperity of the region," he said.
According to reports in the past, Pakistan had awarded a $ 1.2 million contract to an international consortium to conduct a feasibility study for the 750-km rail line in 2007.
As per the past proposal, China would lay the track up to Khujerab. The proposed rail link is a matter of concern to India as it passes through some of the disputed areas forming part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said in New Delhi that "we are closely watching what is happening".
Earlier, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said on the issue that it is definitely a matter of concern. "But we are taking our counter measures and we are doing our own preparation."
Asked to provide details of the proposed rail link, Qing only said that China and Pakistan signed agreements for economic cooperation, transportation, energy, etc after the talks between President Hu Jintao and his visiting Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari.
"Yesterday, during the talks between the leaders of the two countries, the two sides exchanged broad and in-depth views on deepening bilateral strategic partnership of cooperation and both sides agreed to continue to deepen cooperation in the fields of economic cooperation, transportation, energy, etc," Qing said.
On whether any agreement about China's plans to build two new nuclear reactors for Pakistan was signed, he said that pacts in areas such as public health, agriculture and media were inked but declined to say anything on the atomic deal.
To a question about assertions by Zardari's Press Secretary, Faratullah Babar, that an agreement relating to the two nuclear reactors was signed during the Pakistan President's last year visit here, Qing said he has already replied to questions about the pacts signed yesterday. Zardari today also met Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. He is due to leave for Shanghai on Friday.