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New Chinese premier to visit Pakistan

world Updated: May 13, 2013 23:37 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Premier Li Keqiang's upcoming visit to Islamabad will strengthen "all weather ties" between the two countries and push strategic cooperation between them to a comprehensive level, China said on Monday.

Li will pay official visits to India, Pakistan, Switzerland and Germany from May 19 to 27; his first stop will be in New Delhi on May 19.

"We believe this visit of Premier Li will push China-Pakistan relations to a new high. Specifically, it will push China-Pakistan comprehensive strategic partnership," foreign ministry spokesperson, Hong Lei, said on Monday.

While Li's visit to India - and that it is his first port-of-call -- is being seen as a breakthrough in the diplomatic relation between the two countries, Beijing has made it abundantly clear that it will not be at the cost of its decades-old, firm friendship with Pakistan.

During his recent visit, foreign minister, Salman Khurshid had raised the issue of Pakistan's nuclear programme with Chinese leaders and urged China not to allow countries - implying Pakistan - to use their relationship with Beijing to India's detriment.

On the just concluded elections in Pakistan, also discussed between Khurshid and Chinese leaders, Hong said, "China was glad to see that Pakistan's general election has been smoothly held."

"As an all-weather partner China will continue to support Pakistan's efforts for stability and development. We are also willing to work with Pakistan to push China-Pakistan strategic partnership for cooperation to another level," Hong said at the regular press briefing.

"During primier Li's visit to Pakistan he will have talks and meet with President (Asif Ali) Zardari and other Pakistani leaders. Two sides will have in-depth exchange of views and bilateral relations on other issues of mutual interest. Premier Li will also make a speech on China-Pakistan relation and also reach out to all sectors of Pakistan society," Hong said.

On Li's visit to India, Hong said the Chinese premier will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders.

"He will exchange views with them on China-India relations, in particular how to deepen the strategic partnership. We believe this visit by Premier Li to India will further push forward the strategic partnership of cooperation for common development and prosperity," the Chinese official said.

On the recent boundary issue between China and India, Hong said both countries believe that pending a final resolution to the boundary issue, the two countries should maintain peace and stability in the border areas.