China, Pakistan vow to take strategic partnership to new high (Lead)

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Islamabad : China and Pakistan pledged here on Saturday to push forward the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between them to a new high.

While meeting Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi hailed the smooth and successful general elections in Pakistan in July, saying that China respects the choice made by the Pakistani people on their own will.

As Pakistan's good friend, good partner and good neighbour, China will stand firmly with the Pakistani side, Wang said, according to Xinhua news agency.

Wang is on a three-day visit to Pakistan. This is the first official visit by a Chinese dignitary since the new government was formed in Pakistan.

Stressing ties between China and Pakistan as an all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, Wang said relations between the two countries were established on the basis of long-term mutual understanding, mutual support and trust beyond party differences and government changes.

China and Pakistan are "iron brothers" who have forged a time-tested friendship, Wang said.

Beijing will help Islamabad in its efforts to realize new development targets, consolidate strategic mutual trust and strategic coordination and expedite the construction of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to elevate the level of all-round cooperation, he said.

For his part, Qureshi said the two countries were most reliable partners and the new government will always view its relations with Beijing as the cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy. Pakistan is also willing to work with China to strengthen anti-terrorism and defence, he said.

The new government is now pushing forward an ambitious reform agenda and is willing to learn from China's experiences on economic development, poverty relief, disaster reduction, anti-corruption and environmental protection, among which the promotion of CPEC is the priority, Qureshi said.

At a joint press conference after their meeting, Wang said the two sides also agreed to enhance cooperation on defence and security.

He also extended an invitation to Prime Minister Imran Khan to be the guest of honour at the International Import Expo in China. "The Chinese Foreign Minister has invited the Prime Minister to visit the country in November," Qureshi said.

Wang will also meet Khan, outgoing President Mamnoon Hussain, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa. He is also likely to meet President-elect Arif Alvi.