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July 11, 2010

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Zardari visits Expo site

PAKISTANI President Asif Ali Zardari visited the World Expo site yesterday, on the final leg of his five-day state visit to China.

Zardari, who has visited China five times since taking office in 2008, praised Expo's role in helping Chinese people better understand Pakistan's history and its long-running friendship with China.

"For the first time the similarities between our two cultures have been highlighted," Zardari said after touring the Pakistan Pavilion.

The president, accompanied by an entourage including daughters, Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari and Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, watched virtual waterfalls and movies projected onto water screens in the pavilion lobby and saw a life-size replica of an old fort in the Pakistani city of Lahore that dates back to 1025.

On the second floor of the pavilion, where the "China-Pakistan Friendship Wall" stands as a testimony to the two countries' ties, Zardari and his retinue looked at photos of exchange visits by each nation's former leaders since 1951 to cement ties.

Zardari also visited the China Pavilion yesterday. He said he had seen lots of China's new development and changes, adding that he learned a lot from the Expo.

Zardari, who arrived in China on Tuesday, met with a handful of senior Chinese officials, including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao to discuss bolstering the "all-weather and time-tested" relationship between the two nations.

During Zardari's Beijing visit, China and Pakistan signed six deals covering agriculture, health care, justice, media, economy and technology. The two countries also pledged joint efforts to fight terrorism.

China also promised 50 million yuan (US$7.3 million) in aid to Pakistan.

Addressing a group of Chinese business leaders on Wednesday, Zardari invited them to invest in nuclear, hydro and alternative energy sectors in Pakistan, which is now "facing acute power shortages."

"There are now 120 projects under construction by Chinese companies in Pakistan, so it's a continuing relationship and all we have to do is enhance it," Zardari said.

His visit marks a fresh push to expand bilateral ties which have remained politically strong but economically underdeveloped.

China and Pakistan should strive to double their trade volume to US$15 billion by 2015, Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said in a meeting with Zardari on Friday.

In the first five months of this year, bilateral trade totaled US$3.3 billion, a 31 percent increase over last year.


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