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ISLAMABAD - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday wrapped up his first official visit to Pakistan since he took office in March, which analysts said has opened a new chapter in bilateral relations between the two all-weather partners.
New impetus between old friends
Li's trip to Pakistan is aimed at working with the time-tested friend to "open a new chapter in bilateral ties, chart a new course for practical cooperation and thus lift their traditional friendship to a new height," the Chinese premier said when he met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday.
Hu Shisheng, a researcher at China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the inclusion of Pakistan in Li's first overseas trip shows the great importance the Chinese new leadership attaches to the traditional relations with Pakistan.
"China has always given priority to the ties with Pakistan," Li said during his talks with Zardari.
The visit took place at a special moment when Pakistan just held its general elections on May 11 and a new government is yet to be formed.
The Pakistani side gave an exceptionally warm welcome to Li, reflecting the "all-weather" nature of bilateral ties and Pakistan's special friendship toward China, said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Both Zardari and Parkistan's interim Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso went to the Islamabad airbase to receive Li upon his arrival on Wednesday, which is rare in the history of international relations.
During Li's visit, Zardari conferred on Li the country's highest award Nishan-e-Pakistan, which Li said not only represents a personal honor, but also embodies the special friendly feelings the Pakistani people have toward the Chinese people.
Li said the all-weather cooperative friendship between China and Pakistan not only boasts a solid foundation but also enjoys great prospects.
Li and Nawaz Sharif, fomer Pakistani prime minister expected to return to power for a third time, agreed on Thursday to strengthen the comprehensive strategic cooperation in areas like economy and trade.
Describing China as Pakistan's "closest and the most dependable friend," Sharif said "the friendly foreign policy toward China has been the common aspiration of all Pakistani people, and Pakistan regards it as a priority no matter which party takes power."
New pattern of pragmatic cooperation
During Li's trip in Pakistan, the two sides reached the consensus to create a new pattern of their strategic cooperation.
China and Pakistan issued a joint statement on deepening comprehensive strategic cooperation, which highlighted eight areas with some new fields like interconnectivity, maritime cooperation, aviation and aerospace.