MABAD (Agencies) - Chinese vice premier Meng Jianzhu held a string of meetings with Pakistans military and civilian leadership and affirmed his countrys unflinching support to Pakistan at all times, and the two countries signed a number of economic and technical cooperation agreements.
Though, the Chinese vice premiers visit was pre-scheduled and part of Pak-China decision to celebrate 2011 as Pak-China Friendship Year, the recent strain in Pak-US ties has made it more significant. It is now being viewed as an important display of Chinese support for Pakistan.
Meng Jianzhu separately met Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Khalid Shameem Wynne on Monday and discussed with them the emerging security situation in the region and the fight against terrorism.
In his meeting with Gen Kayani both leaders discussed the US allegations levelled against Pakistan and the security threats issued to the country. The Chinese premiere lauded Pakistan at its exemplary sacrifices in the war against terror and assured his countrys continued help to her eternal friend.
He discussed with Gen Wynne the emerging geostrategic situation and other matters of mutual interest. CJCSC highlighted the converging interest of Pakistan and China, both in security and economic arenas.
Earlier, the Chinese dignitary who arrived on a two-day state visit was accorded a warm welcome by Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Pakistans ambassador to China Masood Khan and other officials at Chaklala Airbase. In his brief talk at the airport, the Chinese vice premier said that China has always stood by Pakistan and it will help her friend in every hour of need. He said that the two countries have been working together for the peace and stability of region and this exemplary cooperation will continue forever.
Meng Jianzhu said that he was proud of the unprecedented Pak-China friendship that has passed all tests and trials, and it will continue to get stronger in the future. He said the people of Chain and Pakistan are eternal friends and the cooperation of the two countries at state level was a reflection of this time-tested friendship and trust. To a question, he said it was not time to discuss US threats but to take the Sino-Pak bilateral cooperation to new heights.
Rehman Malik thanked the Chinese vice premiere over unconditional support of China to Pakistan through all her difficult times and hoped the relationship will get even more stronger by the Chinese dignitarys visit. He also thanked for Chinas timely help to meet the challenges presented by the floods this year and the last year.
Pakistan, who enjoys warm friendship with China, is being pressured by Washington to launch offensive against suspected militant elements in North Waziristan tribal agency. Recently, the US officials publicly accused Pakistan and its intelligence agency of supporting Talibans Haqqani network. Pakistan has denied the accusations and called them as unfortunate.
A foreign ministry official said the visit has a symbolic as well as substantial value and it will definitely send a message across the Atlantic. He described the tour as a big relief for Pakistan. However, a ministry spokesperson downplayed the notion and said that the visit was pre-scheduled in the context of the 60th anniversary of Sino-Pak friendship.
Latter at night, Pakistan and China signed a number of agreements related to economic and technical cooperation, relief goods, emergency humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation of some damaged parts of national highways networks at a special ceremony in Aiwan-e-Sadr. The ceremony was witnessed by the Chinese Vice Premier Meng Jianzhu, President Asif Ali Zardari, federal ministers, Punjab governor, Gilgat-Baltistan chief minister and members of the visiting Chinese delegation.
The agreements involving $250 million of Chinese assistance were signed soon after the meeting between the Chinese vice premier and President Ali Zardari.
Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar said that in two rounds of talks at the Presidency matters concerning Pak-China relations, mutual cooperation, regional situation, fight against militancy and recent devastation caused by heavy rains in Sindh came under discussion.
Those present during the delegation-level meeting included Ambassador Liu Jian, Deputy Secretary General of the State Council Wang Yongqing, Vice Minister Zhou Qing, Assistant Minister Chneg Guoping and Li Wei, DG MFA and former ambassador Mr Luo Zhaohui and other senior officials.
From Pakistani side Federal Minister for Interior Rehman Malik, Syed Naveed Qamar, Governor Gilgit-Baltistan, Secretary General Salman Faruqui, BISP Chairperson Farzana Raja, Gilgit-Baltistan CM Syed Mehdi Shah, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, Pakistan Ambassador in China Masood Khan and other senior officials.
He said that the Chinese leader reaffirmed Chinas continued support to Pakistan in its fight against militancy and promotion of regional peace and stability. The president thanked China for its support to Pakistan on the issues of all major concern to the country and its people.
The President said that Pakistan at present was passing through a critical phase as it was battling to purge the curses of militant mindset, to reconstruct the damaged infrastructure and rehabilitate the devastated people who lost everything due to successive natural calamities.
He said that in these peculiar circumstances when the country was grappling with many challenges simultaneously, Chinese assistance has been most welcome in stabilising the situation.
The president thanked the Chinese government for sending a consignment of 7,000 tents. He said that the displaced people required hundreds of thousands of tents and Pakistan looked forward to Chinas assistance in the areas of shelter and health.
Regional situation was also discussed during the meeting. The President said that Pakistan greatly appreciated Chinas support to Pakistan on all issues of its major concern. He said that Chinese role - being a source of stability for the region - was very important to write a new era of peace and stability in the region.
Meng Jianzhu thanked the president for the warm welcome extended to him and his delegation and assured continued Chinese support to Pakistan on all issues.
Later, the President also hosted a dinner for the Chinese dignitary and his delegation that was also attended by some federal ministers and senior officials.