Interview: Pakistani president to put priority on economic ties during China tour
www.chinaview.cn 2008-10-13 22:51:30   Print

    ISLAMABAD, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is expected to prioritize economic ties during his first official bilateral visit to China starting from Tuesday, saying he would take his "own concept" to the friendly neighboring country.

    "I am the first businessman president of Pakistan. So we have a lot of cultural ties, friendly ties, but that is not properly depicted by our economic relationship," Zardari, widower of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, told Xinhua in an interview Monday.

    Zardari won the presidential election and took office as Pakistani president in September, succeeding former president Pervez Musharraf who resigned last month under impeachment pressure.

    The economy-centered interview demonstrated that the new Pakistani president is keen on ways to lead the country out of the current economic difficulties by enhancing cooperation with China.

    "I'm looking forward to visiting China, I haven't been to China for the last 24 years. China has changed since I last was there. I am hoping to remind the leadership of the world how close our relationships are," Zardari said.

    Zardari said he has a long-term economic cooperation plan with China, and will "bring my own concept to China".

    "The concept of Pakistan-China relationships are not a five-year plan," he said, referring to the program for economic and trade cooperation signed between the two counties during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit in 2006. The two countries agreed to increase their bilateral trade volume to 15 billion U.S. dollars by 2011.

    Zardari even promised to visit China "every three months", in a bid to know more about the conditions of China's provinces and seek potential cooperation.

    Talking about China's dramatic changes in the past 30 years since its reform and opening-up, Zardari was deeply impressed by China's achievements and success on its own, especially by its transition to the socialist market economy "with perfection."

    "China is the future of the world," he said. "A strong China means a strong Pakistan."

    Besides, Zardari pledged further cooperation with China in such areas as energy, finance and agriculture.

    In response to a question on anti-terrorism, Zardari said Pakistan and China will carry out close cooperation in this regard.

    "We need commonality to fight terrorism," he said.

    Zardari, since assuming office last month, faces worsening security situation as the military is conducting offensive against Taliban and militants in the restive tribal region.

    In addition, the country's economy kept falling in the past months as the media reports said that Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves had hit a record low. The rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the country's sovereign debt to level of CCC-plus, close to defaulting on its commitments of external loan repayments.

    But Zardari seemed ready for the impending challenges and difficulties.

    "Governance is all about standing up for challenges, and I stood up for challenges all my life," said Zardari.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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