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Xinjiang, Pakistan sign friendly relations agreement
By Lei Xiaoxun (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-04-08 15:18

Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Pakistan signed an agreement to establish friendly provincial relations between Xinjiang and the north-west frontier province of Pakistan yesterday at Urumqi, capital city of Xinjiang.

Region chairman Nur Bekri and Masood Kham, the Pakistani ambassador to China, attended the signing ceremony.

Based on the agreement, the two sides will further explore partnerships in oil and gas resources, bilateral trade, sustainable energy, agriculture, geological survey, water saving and irrigation technology.

As well, a long-awaited direct rail connection between the two neighboring countries will be put at the top of both governments’ agenda. The feasibility study of the railway route has already been completed, according to ambassador Kham.

The two sides emphasized enhanced coordination in the financial and banking sectors. Kham said Pakistan is looking forward to working with Xinjiang on currency settlements for people doing business across the border. Given the proximity of Pakistan and Xinjiang, such cooperation is essential, and will further facilitate bilateral trade, he said.

People’s bank of China has given permission to Pakistan’s biggest international bank, HBL, to open an RMB account and operate relevant business. With the bank’s existing strategic partnership with Urumqi Commercial Bank in share holding and staff training, HBL is seeking to expand its RMB business in Xinjiang.

Describing Pakistan as China’s staunchest ally and all-weather friend, Bekri stressed Xinjiang’s geopolitical and economic importance in diplomatic relations of the two countries. “As the closest neighboring province of Pakistan, Xinjiang is obliged to contribute to the firming up of our diplomatic relationship,” he said.

Despite the ever spreading global economic downturn, Sino-Pakistani bilateral cooperation still has profound potential, and the Xinjiang government is in favor of an all-round partnership with Pakistan, Bekri said.

In 2009, Xinjiang will kick-start the Hongqi Lapu road crossing port upgrading project, the land connection route between China and Pakistan in Xinjiang’s Tashi Kuergan Tajik autonomous county.

“With strong government support and input, I believe the project will be a success, and will further boost trade and communication between the two peoples,” Bekri added.

In an interview with Xinjiang’s local media, ambassador Kham invited Xinjiang enterprises to visit Pakistan and seek investment opportunities. Pakistan is grateful to the Chinese company’s contribution to Pakistan’s economy. “The future prospects are immense,” he said.

To address safety concerns, Kham said the Pakistani authority has applied the highest protective security efforts to provide safety to Chinese people in Pakistan, allocating multiple resources and deployed security forces to ensure that. .

He reiterated that joint efforts should be made to oppress evils, maintain peace and stability and promote harmony for both countries. In order to achieve that goal, Pakistan and China have to deepen their partnership to oppose terrorism, extremism and separatism. Kham also pointed out that Xinjiang and Pakistan share an affinity and similarity in culture and religion—both countries have a long history and rich cultural heritage. Therefore, the prospect of a cultural exchange would be fruitful if more communication efforts are made between the two nations, especially between its youth.

China Daily Xinjiang Bureau