China and Pakistan on Monday inked a series of agreements on a range of subjects, signaling stronger ties between the two traditional allies.
The agreements, which ranged from trade and energy to agriculture and defense, were signed after President Hu Jintao held talks with visiting Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf.
Musharraf, who arrived in Beijing on Sunday for a five-day visit, on Monday strongly condemned the attack on Chinese engineers in Pakistan last Wednesday that left three of them dead, and vowed to apprehend the culprits as soon as possible and mete out harsh punishment.
But Musharraf stressed that Pakistan's friendship with China will "not be affected by the incident."
During their two-hour meeting on Monday afternoon, Hu and Musharraf reviewed the development of China-Pakistan ties, which Hu said are "all-weather" and "time-tested."
The friendship serves as an example of peaceful coexistence and sincere cooperation between countries of different social systems and cultures, Hu said.
Echoing Hu's view, Musharraf said the Pakistani government and people regard China as "a trustworthy neighbor and friend" and would like to maintain the bilateral friendship and step up strategic cooperation.
Musharraf's visit coincided with the 55th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries, and he has been invited to launch a series of commemorative events.
He will also meet with other senior Chinese leaders, including China's top legislator Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao.
According to the bilateral deals reached on Monday, China and Pakistan will step up collaboration in vocational training, pesticide cooperation and fisheries.
The two countries will also work together on earthquake studies, meteorological science and family planning.
Hu suggested the two sides complete the ongoing projects and expand collaboration in fields such as energy, transportation, agriculture and infrastructure, which are all covered in Monday's agreements.
The two sides also signed an agreement on the utilization of preferential buyer's credit.
Hu said he hoped the two sides can ratchet up the negotiation process, so as to set up the China-Pakistan free trade area as soon as possible.
Moreover, Hu called for further cooperation on security and a joint crackdown on the "three forces" plaguing both countries, namely terrorism, separatism and extremism.
Calling for better relations between Pakistan and India, Hu said China would like to see the two countries resolve their disputes, such as the Kashmir issue, through negotiations.
China is ready to develop friendly relations with all South Asian countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, Hu said. "We hope the South Asia region will maintain peace and stability and seek common development."
(Xinhua News Agency February 21, 2006)