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Shaukat Aziz to visit China in April

The Pakistani PM will travel to China to spearhead Islamabad's bid to act as a bridge linking Asia with the oil-rich Middle East.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2007 19:02 IST

Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz will travel to China in April to spearhead Islamabad's bid to act as a bridge linking Asia with the oil-rich Middle East.

Pakistan had proposed a special session at the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2007 to highlight its role in connecting the Middle East to other parts of Asia, Secretary General of BFA, Long Yongtu said.

Aziz will chair a session 'Pakistan-Linking Middle East and Asia' during the BFA Annual Meeting which will be held from April 20 to 22, in the scenic town of Boao, in China's southernmost Hainan Province.

Long said Pakistan's proposal has been added as a new topic for the meeting, which is touted as Asia's Davos.

He said that without the participation of Middle Eastern and South Asian countries, there would be no full and comprehensive cooperation in Asia.

However, analysts said what Pakistan had in mind was allowing its all-weather friend, China, scouting for resources globally, to have access to the Arabian Sea.

The idea of such a cooperation was mooted by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf during his talks with the Chinese leadership last year.

"We are interested in setting up a trade and energy corridor for China," Musharraf had told the state-run 'China Daily' during his visit in February 2006.

China hopes that the Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea coast in Balochistan Province through which it can import crude oil from Iran and Africa and then be transported to Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region by land.

Musharraf said the route on which a feasibility study is being conducted is a shortcut compared with the one via the Straits of Malacca.

The Gwadar port is strategically located as it is quite near the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 per cent of the world's oil passes, he had said.

China contributed about 200 million US dollars for the construction of the Gwadar port's first phase.

Musharraf said he is looking forward to the result of the feasibility study on transporting crude oil via mountainous regions in Pakistan; and suggested that building a railway was an option.

Meanwhile, the BFA has set 'Asia Winning in Today's Global Economy-Innovation and Sustainable Development' as the theme for the conference, Long said.

The BFA Annual Conference gathers together senior government officials, business executives as well as leading academics whose activities affect Asia.