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BEIJING: China places a “high premium” on its relations with Pakistan and believes a key economic project will be successful, President Xi Jinping told Pakistan’s army chief during the latter’s visit to China.

Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is the most senior Pakistani figure to visit ally China since the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan took office in August, and his trip comes a week or so after a senior Chinese diplomat visited Islamabad.

Pakistan has deepened ties with China in recent years as relations with the United States have frayed.

Meeting Gen Bajwa on Wednesday, President Xi said the two countries were “iron friends”, China’s official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.

“China always places a high premium on China-Pakistan relations,” the report cited Mr Xi as saying.

The president expressed his appreciation for the support and security safeguards provided by Pakistan for the Belt and Road Initiative and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor construction.

“As long as high-degree mutual trust and concrete measures are in place, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor construction will succeed and deliver benefits to people of the two countries,” Mr Xi said.

Beijing has pledged to invest about $60 billion in Pakistan for infrastructure for the Belt and Road project.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018