Zardari returns home
China pledges $7.3m for Pakistan
* President's spokesman says China has vowed to continue supporting Pakistan at UN, SAARC and ECO platforms
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari reached Islamabad on Sunday morning after his successful five-day visit to China during which he held talks with the Chinese president and prime minister among many other important political and business leaders.
He conducted a meeting with the Chinese People's Consultative Conference (CPPCC) chairman, visited the Pakistan and China pavilions at the Expo 2010 in Shanghai, addressed forums on economic development and alternate energy and touched base with provincial politicians and leaders of the corporate sector.
Top-level leaders from the business and energy sectors focused on launching joint economic projects, promoting regional connectivity, exploiting new energy sources, chalking out strategies to curb militancy and terrorism, and working out measures for enhancing people-to-people.
MoUs: Briefing journalists, Farhatullah Babar, the president's spokesman, said that during Zardari's fifth visit to China since he has taken charge of office, Beijing pledged to provide a $7.3 million grant to Pakistan for new development projects. The two countries also signed an agreement on economic and technical cooperation and four Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs), he said. Babar added that the MoUs were signed in the fields of health, geological survey and agriculture. An MoU between the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation and China Radio International was also signed for providing Chinese broadcasts in Urdu in selected Pakistani cities on FM radio, he said.
Instruments of ratification were also exchanged as a follow up on the Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.
Convene: The two sides also decided to convene an urgent meeting of the Pak-China Joint Economic Forum in Islamabad for taking decisions on a host of issues, including currency exchange, opening branches of Chinese banks in Pakistan and relocating industries in the special proposed industrial zones in Pakistan.
In response to Pakistan's quest for new energy sources, the China National Energy Administration agreed to work out modalities for tackling Islamabad's energy needs.
Connectivity projects including the $500-million Karakorum Highway upgrade project and the National Trade Corridor (NTC) were also discussed, with the two sides agreeing to modernise the trade, transportation and logistics systems in the country for enhanced regional connectivity, Babar said.
During the visit, Zardari also held separate meetings with the Chinese ministers for water resources and agriculture, which reviewed progress on the hybrid seed and sprinkler irrigation projects. The spokesman said Beijing directed its foreign ministry to take steps for the exchange of youth delegations, cultural and writers' delegations between the two countries, and for awarding more educational scholarships to young Pakistanis at China institutions.
Chinese President Hu Jintao promised "steady progress in cooperation with Pakistan in the energy and telecom sectors, the Neelum-Jehlum project and the Pakistan telecommunication satellite project".
Support: Babar said the Chinese leadership assured Zardari of its continued support for Pakistan at the UN and other multilateral forums including the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and ECO.
The two sides also reaffirmed at the highest level, to strengthen their strategic relationship, increase the level of economic cooperation and take concrete measures to increase people-to-people contact, the spokesman said. app