Pakistan

Wen in Pakistan to boost trade, reassure ally

Wen Jiabao waves in front of China's national flag, on the side of the aircraft that flew him to Pakistan, in Islamabad
Wen Jiabao waves in front of China's national flag, on the side of the aircraft that flew him to Pakistan, in Islamabad Reuters

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has held talks with his Pakistani counterpart, with discussions aimed at boosting trade between the two allies. Fifteen billion euros worth of deals are expected to be finalised during his trip.

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"We have unprecedented relations with China. The whole nation is proud of Pakistan-China friendship," Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told state-run TV at Chaklala airbase, outside Islamabad.

Wen’s visit to Pakistan is meant to reassure its ally that military and economic ties remain tight despite warming relations with Pakistan's arch-rival India.

Arriving from India, where he signed 12-billion-euros worth of trade deals, Wen is to spend three days in Pakistan.

Pakistan has imposed blanket security as Shia Muslims, who make up 20 percent of the Pakistani population, mark Ashura, the holiest day of the Shia Muslim calendar.

Last year, a bomb ripped through a Shia Muslim procession, killing 43 people.

The Chinese premier went into talks with Gilani immediately after landing.

China and Pakistan are expected to sign 14 agreements on trade, health, education, agriculture, energy and infrastructure. Pakistan says it wants trade with its neighbour to climb from 5 billion to over 13 billion euros in five years.

There will also be possible talks on China building a one-gigawatt nuclear power plant as part of Pakistani plans tackle acute energy shortages in the country. 

Retired general Kamal Matinuddin told RFI that he would not be surprised if the building of power plant was confirmed in the coming days. "Pakistan and China have been cooperating in the field of nuclear technology for some time. China built the power plant in Cheshma. So it wouldn't be surprising if the building of a new nuclear plant is confirmed."

 

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