BEIJING: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Thursday that as a true and steadfast friend of Pakistan, China would continue to support Pakistan's efforts to safeguard its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, maintain its national dignity and back the country's economic growth.
Premier Wen Jiabao underlined this message in a meeting with General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) in Beijing at Zhong Nan Hai. The meeting lasted for seventy-five minutes.
General Kayani is on a bilateral visit to China at the invitation of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) leadership. As COAS, it is General Kayani's third visit to China.
The COAS thanked Premier Wen Jiabao and the Chinese government and people for their consistent support to Pakistan in its efforts to uphold its sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as foster economic development and social stability.
“Pakistan would never seek confrontation; it would always seek relations on the basis of mutual respect,” he said.
General Kayani expressed the confidence that the resilient people of Pakistan would overcome difficulties. The COAS said that now the younger generations of China and Pakistan are engaging each other to strengthen their all-weather friendship.
Development of China-Pakistan strategic partnership is the cornerstone of the two countries' policies and shared aspiration of their people, General Kayani said.
“China will always stand by Pakistan in difficult times. Pakistan will find it to be a reliable partner,” Premier Wen Jiabao said, who paid a historic visit to Pakistan in 2010.
Premier Wen said that China and Pakistan support safeguarding of each other's core interests and thanked Pakistan for its people's consistent stand on Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang.
General Kayani said Pakistan armed forces will unswervingly boost cooperation with China and firmly support China's efforts to maintain its core interests.
Premier Wen Jiabao said that in view of the complex and evolving regional and global situation, closer and strengthened coordination between Pakistan and China is imperative in order to meet common challenges.
He said Chinese Government and PLA would continue to support stronger defense cooperation between the two countries and more frequent military to military exchanges.
Premier Wen expressed his belief that the government, armed forces and people of Pakistan will work together to overcome the challenges facing them and achieve rapid development.
The Chinese Premier said Pakistani armed forces have made important contributions toward maintaining bilateral relations and boosting the China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership.
Premier Wen said that Pakistan is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism and has given enormous sacrifices which ought to be duly recognized by the international community.
He applauded Pakistan's efforts to create an enabling environment for peace, stability, security and economic development.
Premier Wen said that China would support Pakistan's efforts to focus on vital economic areas of energy, infrastructure, and agriculture. In addition, he said, the two countries would continue to fortify military to military cooperation.
General Kayani said Pakistan is pursuing a holistic concept of internal and external security. Pakistan's objective is to see a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
“If Afghanistan is peaceful and stable, Pakistan will be the biggest beneficiary,” he said. Strong Pakistan-China ties, including between the two Armed Forces, have remained a constant factor for decades despite changes in the domestic and international situations.
“We will resolutely work towards further strengthening this relationship,” he said.
General Kayani spent a busy day here in Beijing. He held talks with General Ma Xiaotian, PLA's Deputy Chief of General Staff, on a wide range of bilateral defense cooperation issues covering defense and security dialogue, joint exercises, training of personnel, defense co-production, and defense trade.
Before the talks, in an impressive ceremony at Ba Yi Building, General Kayani inspected Guard of Honour by a smartly turned out contingent of PLA.
Later in the day, he met with General Liang Guanglie, China's Defense Minister. General Kayani and General Liang expressed satisfaction that defense cooperation between the two countries had gained new breadth and depth and explored new avenues to enhance collaboration in diverse areas.
Pakistan's Ambassador to China, Masood Khan and Pakistan's senior military officials also attended the meetings and the call on Premier Wen Jiabao.