Zardari leaves for China to boost ties

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Islamabad, Oct 14 (UNI) Pakistan and China will sign at least 10 agreements and MoUs to further reinforce cooperation in trade, counter-terrorism, commerce, industrial development, banking and power sector during President Asif Ali Zardari's four-day visit to China, which begins today.

The two countries may also finalise details to further strengthen cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy. China helped Pakistan construct a 300-megawatt nuclear power plant at Chashma town, which went critical a few years ago, while another plant of similar capacity is currently under construction at the same site.

Pakistan has decided to purchase scanners, arms and other equipment from China instead of the US to combat terrorism and the issue will come under discussion during Mr Zardari's visit.

The ministers for foreign affairs, defence, finance, and environment and the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission will accompany the President.

Mr Zardari will meet Chairman of National People's Congress Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao and Chairman of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Jia Qinglin.

Pakistan's ambassador to China Masood Khan said the first objective of Mr Zardari's visit was not only to maintain the strategic partnership, but also to carry forward these bonds to new heights.

He said, in 2002, the bilateral trade was around 2 billion dollars. It has now risen to 7 billion dollars. However, the leadership of both countries was committed to raising the figure to 15 billion dollars by 2010.

''To achieve this goal, we have to mobilise not only the government machinery, but also encourage the corporate sector of the two sides to come forward,'' Mr Khan said.

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