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China, Pak set to sign many agreements during Hu's visit

Last updated on: November 22, 2006 16:23 IST
China on Wednesday signalled its plan to sign "unprecedented agreements" with Pakistan during President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit, but kept mum on the possibility of a deal to supply up to six nuclear reactors to Islamabad.

"During President Hu's four-day state visit to Pakistan, China is expected to sign unprecedented agreements with the South Asian country," the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

However, the report did not say whether China would sign an Indo-US-style civilian nuclear agreement with Pakistan for the supply of six nuclear reactors. China and Pakistan will ink a five-year development programme for bilateral economic and trade cooperation during Hu's visit which will be the first-ever agreement for China to sign with another country, the report said.

Hu and his Pakistani counterpart, Pervez Musharraf, will attend the inauguration ceremony of the Haier-Ruba economic zone in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, the first of the eight economic zones to be established outside China and mainly managed by Chinese companies.

"The above-mentioned achievements are major breakthroughs by both China and Pakistan in seeking new modes and approaches in their economic and trade cooperation," the report quoted unnamed sources as saying on the eve of Hu's visit to Islamabad, the first by a Chinese president in a decade.

Chinese government has already announced that it will sign other agreements with Pakistan in areas such as trade, culture and education during Hu's visit.

However, Beijing has kept mum on the Pakistani request for six nuclear reactors for power generation. China has also defended the ongoing nuclear energy cooperation with Pakistan. "China and Pakistan have an agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Within this framework, both sides conduct equal and mutually beneficial cooperation and also receive the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jiang Yu said in Beijing last week.

"We are willing to cooperate with Pakistan within this framework," she said when asked whether China and Pakistan will sign a new nuclear cooperation agreement during Hu's visit. At present the China-Pakistan nuclear energy cooperation is mainly on the Chashma nuclear station (350 megawatts) for electricity generation, she said.

China has completed the first stage of the Chashma nuclear power station and the second stage (350 mw) is still under construction, she said. China and Pakistan are also set to conclude a Free Trade Agreement, the first between a South Asian country and the Communist trading giant.

Already, both sides have concluded the negotiations for this. During the upcoming visit, Hu will hold talks with Musharraf and Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

He is also expected to meet business circles, students and other friendly groups in Pakistan. Hu will also have the honour to address the Pakistani people on television. Hu's visit to Pakistan is bound to further promote bilateral cooperation in various fields and give new impetus to the development of Sino-Pakistani friendship, Xinhua commented.

Anil K Joseph in Beijing
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