Gilani wins China's backing to counter tense ties with US

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Yousuf Raza Gilani
Beijing, May 20: Pakistan Prime Yousuf Raza Gilani on May 20 wrapped up his high profile visit here after securing China's open backing to counter-balance his country's tense ties with US, following the killing of Osama bin Laden, besides garnering a large economic and defence package.

On the last day of his four day visit, Gilani met Chinese President Hu Jintao, who reaffirmed China's firm backing to its beleaguered strategic ally saying, Pakistan has made outstanding contributions in the fight against terrorism and international community, meaning Washington should respect its sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.

"The two sides shared the view that against the background of a complex and ever changing international and regional situation, it is of high significance to consolidate and deepen the China-Pakistan all weather strategic partnership," a China-Pak joint statement said on May 20.

The bilateral ties will be stepped up "in line with the principles and spirit of the treaty of friendship, Cooperation and Good-neighborly relations between the People's Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan signed in 2005," it added.

Hu, General-Secretary of the ruling Communist Party also called upon the international community to help Pakistan in its endeavor to combat extremism and terrorism asserting that it is an important country in the region and has a unique role in promoting the reconciliation and development in Afghanistan.

Hu's assertions formed part of carefully orchestrated campaign by Beijing to highlight its support for Pakistan during Gilani's visit.

This coupled with "revelations" by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in his talks with his Pakistani counterpart that Beijing has conveyed its firm stand to US during recent strategic dialogue with Washington, made analysts to speculate that China is deftly playing Pakistan card against America just as US was poised to gain an upper hand in Pakistan and Afghanistan after bin Laden's killing.

A joint statement issued at the end Gilani's visit said "Chinese side recognised the tremendous efforts and the great sacrifice that Pakistan has made in fighting terrorism." The statement said "the two sides shared the view that terrorism, separatism and extremism pose serious threats to regional peace, stability and security, reaffirming their resolve to undertake substantive cooperation under bilateral and multilateral frameworks, and jointly fight the three forces." "Pakistan reiterated that it would never allow its territory to be used to attack any country and will continue to support international counter-terrorism cooperation," it said.

PTI

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