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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 00:32 GMT
China loan to boost Pakistan army
Pervez Musharraf (left) and Hu Jintao
China and Pakistan have a history of defence ties
China is to provide a $12 million interest-free loan to Pakistan, says the Chinese defence minister.

General Cao Gangchuan said the money would boost ties between the two countries' armed forces.

His Pakistani counterpart praised what he called China's invaluable assistance and said the two countries' friendship would weather international flux.

The US hailed Pakistan as a "major non-Nato ally" this week, provoking scorn from Pakistan's nuclear rival, India.

The US announcement will make it easier for Pakistan to make use of America's weaponry and military infrastructure.

China is a long-standing ally of Pakistan.

Pakistan has complained in the past about India's military dealings with Israel, which is fast becoming a major supplier of weapons technology to the regional superpower.

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