China assures Pak of support amid row with US

China wields considerable influence over Pakistan military by virtue of its longstanding strategic relations.

Last Updated: Dec 23, 2011, 21:21 PM IST

Islamabad: China`s on Friday assured Pakistan of
its continued support and cooperation in economic and defence
issues amid severe strain in US-Pak ties following a NATO air
strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

State Councillor Dai Bingguo, China`s top foreign policy
official arrived here today for a visit that Chinese officials
said was aimed at taking the "all-weather" relationship
between the two countries to "a new high".

During a meeting with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar
this evening, Dai "assured Pakistan of continued support and
cooperation in economic, strategic, defence and other
spheres", said a statement from the Foreign Office.

Khar conveyed her appreciation for "China’s support for
Pakistan`s sovereignty and territorial integrity" after the
NATO air strike on Pakistani military border posts on November
26, the statement said.

Dai briefed Khar on China`s position on various regional
and global issues.

The two leaders discussed important bilateral and
regional issues, the international security situation and
matters of mutual interest.

Khar told the Chinese diplomat that Pakistan "fully
understood the imperative of peace and stability in the region
and looked forward to contributing, as effectively as
possible, towards this end".

Both leaders expressed satisfaction at the celebration of
Pakistan-China Friendship year 2011 and resolved to "keep
strengthening future bilateral cooperation".

Dai will meet President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime
Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Ahead of his arrival in Islamabad, China`s Foreign
Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said Dai`s visit was aimed at
taking bilateral relations "to a new high".
The visit has assumed significance in the wake of the
NATO attack on two Pakistani border posts.

Pakistan responded to the attack by closing all NATO
supply routes and forcing the US to vacate Shamsi airbase
reportedly used by CIA-operated drones.

The Pakistan Army yesterday rejected the report of a US
investigation into the attack that acknowledged lapses on the
part of American and NATO troops.

Dai`s visit comes at a time when Gilani openly spoke of
conspiracy to oust the elected government saying that it was
"unacceptable" if the Army "considers itself a state within
state" and warned that conspiracies were being hatched to
"pack up" his government.

China wields considerable influence over Pakistan
military by virtue of its longstanding strategic relations.

PTI