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Seven Accords Signed with Pakistan

Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz signed seven accords, including a protocol on preferential trade arrangements and a free trade agreement, with Chinese leaders in Beijing on Wednesday. Aziz is on his first visit to China as prime minister. 

His visit is part of the continuing high-level exchanges between China and Pakistan. President Pervez Musharraf visited Beijing last November, when the two countries signed a joint declaration on the future development of Chinese-Pakistani cooperation.


The primary objective of Aziz's visit is economic links and enhanced commercial interaction, according to Pakistani officials. Pakistan hopes to expand cooperation with private, small and medium-sized enterprises in China.


Aziz also announced on Wednesday that Pakistan recognizes China's full market economy status, and both countries agreed to discuss details concerning the establishment of a bilateral free trade zone.


The prime minister, with an 80-member entourage that includes senior officials and business leaders, will also visit the commercial port of Shanghai on Friday and encourage business people there to invest in Pakistan.


In his meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao, Aziz expressed appreciation for China's support and economic aid to Pakistan, and said his country welcomes additional Chinese entrepreneurs.


Wen suggested that priority be given to the exploration of energy resources and exchanges in the agriculture sector.


China is involved in a number of key infrastructure projects in Pakistan, including roads, dams, ports and hydroelectric plants. Currently, more than 3,000 Chinese nationals are working there on major projects.


The leaders of the two countries also discussed regional and international issues, including the anti-terrorism campaign and the India-Pakistan peace process, which China welcomes.


Wen called on both countries, which are threatened by terrorism and extremism, to implement prevention measures jointly and enhance cooperation in anti-terrorism efforts.


Last year, the two countries conducted their first joint naval exercises near the Shanghai coast. The highly successful drill, simulating an emergency rescue, was the first time either country engaged in joint naval operations with another nation.


This is the first high-level visit of any Pakistani leader to China since October's hostage-taking episode near South Waziristan. That incident culminated in the death of a Chinese engineer working on the Gomal Zam dam project.


Although China indicated that the tragedy would not influence China-Pakistan cooperation, there have been concerns that it would shake Chinese nationals' confidence in working on projects in Pakistan and affect capital investment.


(China Daily December 16, 2004)

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