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China, Pakistan Pledge Closer Partnership
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Officials in Islamabad pledged on Sunday to foster the friendship between China and Pakistan and in so doing consolidate the bilateral strategic and cooperative partnership.


Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri made these remarks at a joint press conference on Sunday afternoon.


At the invitation of Kasuri, Li embarked upon a two-day official visit to Pakistan on April 1-2.


Li promised China's full backing to consolidating the two nations' traditional friendship and cooperation for the benefit of both peoples and overall regional development, Li said.


"We want to work with Pakistan to take the strategic and cooperative partnership to a new height," he said.


Responding to a question, Li stated that China's fundamental policy towards South Asia was to help maintain stability, development and cooperation.


He called upon all South Asian countries to enjoy political stability, economic prosperity and harmony for common development.


Briefing the media, Kasuri revealed the Pakistani-Chinese relations had remained excellent for over half a century and had consistently deepened over this period. He labeled the relationship as a long-lasting, time-tested and all-weather friendship.


Kasuri thanked China for its economic support on several major projects of "great national significance," such as the newly inaugurated Gwadar Port.


Turning to the joint five-year program for trade and economic cooperation, Kasuri praised the free trade agreement signed between Pakistan and China as greatly bolstering economic ties between the two neighbors.


Kasuri also proclaimed Pakistan's support of China's new observer status in the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), which he said had elevated the profile of the organization. In closing, Kasuri spoke of his country's confidence that China would play a pivotal role in SAARC.


(Xinhua News Agency April 2, 2007)

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