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Monday, 14 May, 2001, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
China pledge on economic ties
Zhu Rongji plants a tree in Islamabad
Zhu held out hopes of more agreements in the future
Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji has ended a visit to Pakistan with pledges to improve economic co-operation between the two countries.

At a reception in Lahore on Sunday, Mr Zhu said the two countries should work "shoulder to shoulder" to strengthen ties.

During his visit, the Chinese premier also praised Pakistan's military government for bringing political and economic stability to the country.

China and Pakistan have a long-standing friendship - although more recently Beijing has been trying to improve its traditionally frosty relationship with Delhi.

Economic agreements

Several agreements were signed during Mr Zhu's visit covering mining, telecommunications, railways and tourism, and both sides say they hope to expand co-operation in science and technology.

Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji and Pakistan's General Pervez Musharraf
Rongji said Pakistan had much improved under Musharraf's rule
Mr Zhu announced that China would support the development of the port at Gwadar, west of Karachi, and its link road.

He also held out hopes of more agreements in the future, saying he hoped China-Pakistan economic co-operation would be brought to a new high in the new century.

General Musharraf will appreciate the endorsement of his attempts to revive the ailing economy.

Mr Zhu said people's living standards had improved and that the two countries needed to build on what had been achieved by expanding trade and investment.

Missile shield

But the talks were also significant in the wake of the United States's announcement last week of its plans to build a shield against missile attacks.

Pakistan has been quick in lending its support to the Chinese opposition to the plans.

One reason for Islamabad's support for the Chinese position is because India, which Pakistan sees as its rival in the region, has endorsed the missile plan.

Analysts say the position taken by Pakistan is likely to give a new identity to the bilateral relations between Beijing and Islamabad.

The Chinese leader is to visit Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives after Pakistan.

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See also:

12 May 01 | South Asia
China warned over India 'threat'
29 Mar 01 | South Asia
Pakistan opens second nuclear plant
18 Jan 01 | South Asia
China and India reach out
10 Aug 00 | South Asia
China accused over Pakistan missiles
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