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Hu Jintao arrives in Islamabad

Written by: Staff
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Islamabad, Nov 23 (UNI) Chinese President Hu Jintao was accorded a historic welcome as he arrived here this evening on a four-day official visit to Pakistan.

Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz personally went to the Islamabad international airport to receive the Chinese leader. A 21-gun salute heralded arrival of the Chinese President as he alighted his special aircraft.

Later, he accompanied his Pakistani counterpart to a beautifully erected canopy and received salute from the smartly turned out contingent of the armed forces.

Hundreds of people were lined en route the Chinese President's entourage from the airport to a local hotel, where he will be staying. Men, women and children showered rose petals on the motorcade of the visiting leader.

Mr Hu Jintao's itinerary in Islamabad includes meeting with President General Pervez Musharraf, followed by signing of several bilateral cooperation agreements, interaction with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and address to the Pakistani nation.

On Saturday, he will travel to Lahore to attend a civic reception to be hosted in his honour by the people of Lahore at the historic Shalimar gardens.

''The visit has great strategic significance as the two countries are expected to take a quantum leap forward in bilateral cooperation by entering into several agreements,'' Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had said ahead of the Chinese President's visit.

Pakistan is expected to sign agreements for construction of nuclear power plants, development of the Gwadar Port in southwestern Balochistan province and cooperation in economic, commercial, investment and defence fields.

''These accords will further strengthen bilateral, socio-cultural-economic relations, increase trade exponentially and pave the way for enhanced Chinese investment in Pakistan in diverse fields,'' foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam said.

Mr Hu's visit will also be the high point in the commemoration of the 55th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations.

''The visit will set-out a clear trajectory for cooperation between the two countries in the 21st century,'' spokeswoman Aslam said.

The talks will also identify new areas for joint venture in defence.

The defence cooperation between Pakistan and China dates back to early 1960s when the latter extended financial and technical support to Islamabad to develop heavy industries and aeronautical complex near Islamabad, which are now manufacturing tanks and armoured personnel carriers, plus overhauling the whole range of combat aircraft being flown by the country's air force.

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is currently flying Chinese-made Karakoram-8 jet trainers as well as F-7, F-7PGs and A-5s combat aircraft.

The two countries have also jointly manufactured JF-17(Thunder) combat aircraft, which had its inaugural operational flight in the Chinese city of Chengdu on May 10.

The aircraft is scheduled to begin duty in the PAF next year, followed by serial production in the country.

China also agreed to sell four F-22P frigates to Pakistan. The first ship will be commissioned in 2008. While two will be built in China and two others in Pakistan.

UNI XC MQA ND1915

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