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Friday, April 8, 2016, 12:42

Xinjiang seals US$2b in deals with Pak firms

By Reuters

Xinjiang seals US$2b in deals with Pak firms

BEIJING - Companies from China's far western region of Xinjiang signed deals worth about US$2 billion with Pakistan this week during a visit to Pakistan by Xinjiang's top official, who sought to cement ties with an important security partner.

Pakistan last year agreed energy and infrastructure projects worth US$46 billion with China to set up a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, in a boost to Pakistan's crumbling infrastructure and energy sector.

In return, China will get a free trade zone in Pakistan's Gwadar port and access to the Arabian Sea. New Pakistani roads will open up routes for Chinese goods into Europe and the Middle East from landlocked Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan.

During a four-day visit to Pakistan, Xinjiang's Communist Party chief Zhang Chunxian met Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, visited Islamabad, Karachi and Gwadar, the official Xinjiang Daily said on Friday.

"China and Pakistan have a deep friendship, are good neighbours, friends, brothers and partners," the newspaper cited Zhang as saying.

"On this trip, I have deeply felt this friendship and the atmosphere surrounding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor."

The US$2 billion in agreements covered infrastructure, solar power and logistics, among other projects, signed by companies from Xinjiang with those in Pakistan, the newspaper said, without giving details.

China and Pakistan call each other "all-weather friends" but China has also long urged Pakistan to weed out militancy.

While a meeting with Sharif, Zhang iterated China's pledge to continue working together to fight terrorism, strengthen border controls, maintain regional peace and stability and ensure the economic corridor projects are protected, the newspaper said.

Zhang also met Pakistan's military on the trip, it added, without elaborating.

Zhang visited a mosque in Islamabad, where he "got a deep understanding of Pakistan's religious affairs management", the Xinjiang Daily added.

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