BEIJING: Pakistan and China Friday resolved to promote the policies aimed at advancing the cause of peace, co- operation and harmony creating a win-win situation in the region.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang that their countries' relationship was “sweeter than honey”, during the five-day visit to Beijing with economic ties at the top of the agenda.
Pakistan and China are close diplomatic and military allies and Sharif, who is on his first foreign trip since his May election, is looking to secure infrastructure projects to tackle a chronic energy crisis and economic malaise in his country.
At the Great Hall of the People in the Chinese capital, Sharif said his welcome “reminds me of the saying, our friendship is higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the deepest sea in the world, and sweeter than honey”.
Li told him: “I greatly appreciate your great warmth and deep affection for the people of China.”
The Chinese premier was the first foreign leader to visit Pakistan after Sharif's victory at the polls.
In a joint statement issued after the meeting between the two premiers, both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to pursue people-centric policies to “mitigate poverty, promote social and economic development and diminish the roots of conflict”.
During the meeting, the Pakistani prime minister reaffirmed the commitment of his government to promote and deepen the bilateral strategic cooperation between China and Pakistan.
Pakistan reiterated that friendship with China was the cornerstone of its foreign policy, enjoying a national consensus and appreciated the support and assistance of the Chinese government and people for Pakistan's sovereignty and socio-economic development.
“Pakistan will continue to adhere to its one-China policy, oppose Taiwan and Tibet's independence and support China's efforts in combating the “Three Evils” of extremism, terrorism and separatism. We regard ETIM as our common threat and stand united in combating this menace,” said Sharif.
The Chinese side agreed to support the efforts of the Government of Pakistan in addressing its urgent energy needs.
The two sides agreed to hold the third meeting of the China- Pakistan Joint Energy Working Group at an early date and deepen cooperation in conventional energy, renewable energy and other sources of energy. China stressed that it will continue to encourage and support Chinese enterprises' investment in Pakistan.
It was also agreed that both sides will support enterprises of the two countries in conducting cooperation on establishment of industrial zones in Gwadar.
Beijing has been involved with the upgrade of the Karakoram Highway as part of a proposed economic corridor between the two countries.
Earlier this year China took control of Pakistan's Gwadar port, giving it access to the Arabian Sea and Strait of Hormuz, a gateway for a third of the world's traded oil.
A series of agreements were signed by ministers of the two countries as Li and Sharif held talks.
Among these was a “long term plan” over the economic corridor, and agreements on technology, polio prevention and solar housing.
An agreement was also signed for cooperation between Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and the Communist Party of China (CPC).
The two countries also agreed a $44 million project to erect a fibre optic cable from the China-Pakistan border to Rawalpindi, which aims to give Pakistan more connectivity to international networks.
China-Pakistan trade last year reached $12 billion and is targeted to rise to $15 billion in the next two to three years.
On Thursday Sharif held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, amid concerns in his country over weak growth, inflation and power cuts of up to 20 hours a day.
Xi, who referred to Sharif as an old friend and a good brother, said strengthening strategic cooperation with Islamabad was a priority for China's diplomacy, the state-run broadcaster China Central Television reported.
Sharif said his country welcomed Chinese investment and would work to create a friendly environment for it.
The threat of terrorism is also expected to figure during Sharif's discussions.