CHINA / National
Hu concludes landmark Pakistan visit(AFP)
Updated: 2006-11-27 07:36
LAHORE, Pakistan - Chinese President Hu Jintao concluded his landmark visit to Pakistan, during which the two countriese signed a free trade deal and agreed to boost their strategic partnership and ties in the defence and energy sectors.
Before leaving for Beijing, Hu visited a Chinese factory in Lahore that manufactures air conditioners, refrigerators and other electronics items.
He also inaugurated an economic zone set up outside Lahore to promote industrial development.
Officials said the economic zone, where Chinese companies will be given land free of cost, will help promote private sector investment.
Hu said he would ask Chinese companies to invest in Pakistan, they added.
Prime Minister Aziz, who accompanied Hu, said cooperation between Pakistan and China would further increase in different sectors, especially defence, technology and energy, after the Chinese president's "successful" visit.
The Chinese president arrived in the historic city of Lahore on Saturday for a civic reception in the scenic Mughal-built Shalimar gardens.
Hu, the first Chinese leader in a decade to visit Pakistan, declared at the reception that the Sino-Pakistan strategic partnership would remain intact under all circumstances.
"The changing global scenario with critical challenges or the situation in the region will not affect our evergreen friendship," he said.
The Chinese leader, who flew into Islamabad on Friday after a trip to Pakistan's bitter rival India, said the friendship between Pakistan and China was "vital for the stability in the region."
Pakistan and China signed 18 agreements in the economic, trade, social and defense fields. China also pledged to play a constructive role in resolving disputes between Pakistan and India.
A wide-ranging joint statement issued on Saturday hailed continued close ties in the fields of defence, energy, trade, agriculture, information technology, combatting terrorism, culture and tourism.
"China will continue to view its relations with Pakistan from a strategic and long-term perspective and work together with Pakistan to elevate the China-Pakistan strategic partnership to a new high," the statement said.
It added that China thanked Pakistan for its "valuable support on such issues as Taiwan, Tibet and human rights".
It said the free trade agreement signed after Hu's arrival for his three day visit would serve as an "engine for balanced growth of volume of trade" between the two countries.
The two sides agreed to increase bilateral trade to more than US$15 billion in the next five years.
Pakistan will also receive Chinese help in the energy and mining sectors.
"The two sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation in the energy sector, including fossil fuels, coal, hydro-power, nuclear power, renewable sources of energy as well as in the mining and resources sector," it said.
The two countries also vowed to jointly combat terrorism, separatism and extremism, saying those "three forces" posed great threats to regional peace, stability and security.
After talks with President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday Hu confirmed he would continue cooperating with Pakistan in nuclear power production. China has built one reactor and is helping to construct another.
Pakistan is developing the JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft with Chinese help and China is also building a multi-million-dollar Gwadar deep sea port in southwest Pakistan to access the Arabian Sea.