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China, Pak reaffirm their 'all weather' friendship

May 18, 2011 16:57 IST

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday vowed to continue their 'all-weather' friendship, as increasingly isolated Islamabad stepped up efforts to drum up support after the killing of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden by American forces in Pakistan.

Wen held talks with Gilani at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The two leaders reaffirmed two countries will maintain all-weather friendship, Chinese state run Xinhua reported.

Before the close-door talks, Wen held a welcoming ceremony for Gilani, who arrived in Shanghai on Tuesday for a four-day visit to China. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said earlier that during Gilani's visit, the two sides will exchange views on deepening bilateral relations, promoting pragmatic cooperation in a wide range of areas and other international and regional issues of common concern.

Pakistan's Ambassador to China Masood Khan said the two countries will sign a number of agreements in the fields of economy, technology and defence during Gilani's visit. The Pakistan prime minister was scheduled to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao later.

Though Gilani's visit was worked earlier to kick off events to mark 60th year of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, it is overshadowed by Pak-US tensions over the killing of bin Laden.

Ahead of Gilani's visit China announced "unswerving" support to Pakistan counter terrorism efforts and asked US to strengthen anti-terror cooperation with Pakistan by providing more aid.

"Indeed Pakistan is the victim of terrorism. Pakistan has made very important contribution to international counter terrorism cooperation as well as great sacrifices," Jiang had said as Gilani arrived Shanghai for a four-day visit.

Gilani came to Beijing on Wednesday after attending an international cultural conference in Suzhou city where he said Pakistan and China being close friends and good neighbours enjoyed the all-weather friendship which was deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of their peoples.

Pakistan "admired the accomplishments of the great Chinese nation," he said, adding that the world was witnessing today a renaissance of the ancient and glorious Chinese civilisation. "I have no doubt that Chinese sagacity and thought will have a profoundly beneficial impact for the mankind, as a whole. We are happy to see China shape the 21st century world," Gilani said.

He said the two countries were "building new bridges" and "enhancing connectivity," stressing the growing cultural contact. "The China-Pakistan friendship epitomises complete understanding, full trust and mutual cooperation and harmony," he said.

K J M Varma in Beijing