Pakistan and China want closer partnership

Visiting Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said he wants to "inject more vigor" into a strategic partnership with China after meeting Wednesday with the country's defense chief in Beijing, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. " Pakistan will continue to contribute to developing friendly cooperation with China 's defense department, military and other departments," Xinhua quoted Musharraf as saying.

"We want to continuously inject more vigor into the two nations' close strategic cooperative partnership," Musharraf said. Beijing is one of Islamabad 's closest allies and its leading weapons supplier.

The news agency quoted Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan as saying he hoped Musharraf's five-day visit, which marks 55 years of steadily warming ties between the two neighbors, will help "deepen all-around cooperation with Pakistan , and maintain regional and world peace and stability."

Musharraf, who arrived in China on Sunday, also invited more Chinese enterprises to invest in Pakistan , Xinhua said. " Pakistan 's economy grew by 8.4 percent last year," he told officials and business community members Tuesday at a forum in Beijing , the agency said. "This year ... we are sure we will grow by over 7 percent."

Pakistan has a strategic location, cheap labor and serves as a regional energy corridor for China 's access to Southeast Asia , India and the Gulf, Xinhua quoted Musharraf as saying. China-Pakistan trade volume in 2005 grew by more than 40 percent from the previous year, he was reported as saying.

In 2004-05, Pakistan 's exports to China were US$354.1 million ( Ђ 297.9 million) and imports from China were worth US$1.8 billion ( Ђ 1.5 billion), according to figures from the Ministry of Commerce. In 2003-04 Pakistan 's exports to China were US$288.3 million ( Ђ 242.5 million) and imports from China were US$1.2 billion ( Ђ 1 billion), the ministry said.

Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai promised at the forum to accelerate free trade negotiations between the two countries and to make it easier for Pakistani countries to invest in China , Xinhua said. The two countries on Monday signed 13 sweeping agreements on issues including military, trade, and social cooperation.

Musharraf also apologized to China for the shootings last week of three Chinese engineers by tribal militants in Pakistan . Dozens of suspects have been arrested. China has pledged US$326 million (euro273.7 million) to help survivors of the Oct. 8 quake that killed at least 87,000 people in Pakistan , reports the AP.


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